October 17, 2007 PRINT Bookmark and Share

CC Suspensions Stemmed From Blackface Incident

CHN Staff Report

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The suspensions of four Colorado College players, which happened prior to the start of the season, were the result of wearing blackface during a team outing in September.

The players were senior captain Scott Thauwald, sophomores Andreas Vlassopoulos and Brian Connelly, and freshman Brett Wysopal.

The players will be on disciplinary probation the rest of the school year.

It was previously unknown what the suspensions were for. A story in the school's student paper broke the details. The suspensions already took place prior to the Tigers' exhibition game. The players are back with the team, and will be there for this weekend's opener against Minnesota.

The players apologized to the campus community, and met with the local branch of the NAACP and Urban League. The players also must take diversity training courses.

The incident occurred at the team's annual preseason golf outing on Sept. 8 at Valley Hi Golf Course. The party had a theme — TV shows — where the players were to dress up. This foursome chose the TV show "Family Matters," about a black family, to be their theme, and wore wigs and makeup.

"Colorado College must be a diverse, respectful community, where we value all persons and seek to learn from their diverse experiences and perspectives," CC president Richard Celeste said in a statement. "Several weeks ago, an incident in which students engaged in inappropriate and offensive behavior violated this core value. The college took this situation very seriously and acted as quickly as possible to take substantial disciplinary action and create opportunities for dialogue."

"The intent was to have good costumes," Thauwald told the Colorado Springs Gazette. "We realize now, even though there was no racial intent, that what we did was wrong. We've all learned a lot through the last couple of weeks, and we've apologized to the school and the people we directly affected, and I feel like a lot of the students were pretty welcoming to our apology. We made a mistake."

"It was a constructive experience because I thought they were open," Rosemary Harris of the Colorado Springs branch of the NAACP said to the Gazette about meeting with the players. "It was people coming together around the table to do what we so often don't do, which is talk honestly about race in this country. ... I walked away feeling it wasn't going to be swept under the rug, and I felt these students fully expected that it would not be swept under any rug."

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