Two Black players are transferring off of the Liberty University football team, citing the school’s insensitivity to racial issues.
Tre Clark, who played high school football at Manchester, and Tayvion Land of Ocean Lakes in Virginia Beach, announced their decisions on Twitter on Monday morning.
Clark said the decision was “simply bigger than football or the program,” adding that he appreciated his time with the team and the friendships he built there.
“However due to the cultural [incompetence] within multiple levels of leadership, it does not line up with my code of ethics,” he wrote. “So therefore I had to do what I felt like was right in my heart, and I pray that you support me and pray for me as I find a new home to further my education and football career.”
Land, the first four-star recruit to choose Liberty, posted a similar statement.
“Unfortunately, due to the racial insensitivity displayed by leadership at Liberty University, I have decided to enter my name into the transfer portal and no longer be a student-athlete at Liberty University,” he wrote. “I pray that I am able to be provided with [an] opportunity at a new school that respects my culture and provides a comfortable environment.”
Their decision to transfer comes less than two weeks after former women’s basketball player Asia Todd became the first student-athlete to announce a departure from the university following LU President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s decision to invoke Gov. Ralph Northam’s blackface scandal while attacking the state’s mask requirements in late May.
The incident, which helped spark protests across the city and prompted at least four Black employees to resign from the Christian institution, has trickled down into the athletic department.
Liberty football coach Hugh Freeze issued a statement June 3 following “incredible and eye-opening dialogue with our players and staff” in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
“I think every university has challenges at times because of the perception that somebody might have nationally or somewhere that’s different,” Freeze said Thursday during a virtual press conference. “My message simply has always been: Come and see, and come and see the great things our leadership has done, led by President Falwell, who has been incredible to our program and to me personally and get to know exactly.
“Sometimes things are said or done that, in hindsight, I might say, ‘Man, I wish I would have said that differently or done that differently or not done that.’ I think all of us are in that boat. We live in an environment today where everybody’s opinion on whatever somebody else does, they can say it, whether it’s true or it’s not true, that they can say it. My message is simply always been: man, come and see.”
Jeremy Peters, a cornerback at Liberty who graduated after the 2018 season, tweeted: “Another day, more athletes leaving Liberty ... Hopefully, they can hear us now.”
Clark posted 38 tackles and broke up six passes, and Land recorded 23 tackles and a fumble recovery during his freshman campaign.
The football program began voluntary workouts June 1, and the entire roster was on campus June 15.