Former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer is defending fraternity members who supposedly did not participate in the racist chant that got the school's Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter shut down and led to the expulsion of two students.
Switzer, who graduated from the University of Arkansas but won three national championships while head coach of the Sooners from 1973 to 1988, is an honorary member of SAE, Yahoo reports.
"It hurts me because I have a vested interest in this. I am an SAE. I know the kids in this house, I spend some time over here and I know what they're like," he told KWTV above. "Hey, I wouldn't put up with that crap either and they don't either and they don't believe in it."
During the interview, Switzer kept company with the fraternity chapter's house mom, Beauton Gilbow. Footage of a woman who appears to be Gilbow saying "n***a" seven times surfaced on social media after fraternity members were filmed chanting, "There will never be a n***** in SAE/You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me."
Switzer also told local news outlet KOCO 5 that labeling all the frat members as bigots was "unacceptable."
He also issued a statement via social media:
While I support the University of Oklahoma and SAE’s decision to pursue swift actions, this situation is unfortunate for the many innocent people involved. As a long-time supporter of the University and member of the SAE chapter, I know the majority of our students don’t condone or participate in bigotry. These incidents are not a reflection of the true spirit of our campus.
I hope that we can begin to heal the wounds by avoiding rhetoric that fuels the fire and instead spend more time thinking about how we can collectively create positive relationships and interactions among our campus family.
OU President David Boren was not impressed, suggesting Switzer is out of touch.
"I don’t think he’s very well informed about it," Boren told NewsOK.com. "I just have to say that.”