Civil Rights Complaint Filed Against Local Football Coach

I grew up right near Mattawan, Michigan and my best friend and his family still live there. That town is now the center of some controversy now that the high school football coach is the target of a civil rights complaint filed by the family of the starting quarterback on the team. The coach apparently has a real problem with saying things he absolutely should not say. Here are some of the things he has apparently admitted to saying (he denies some other things that are even worse).

According to the documents obtained by the Gazette, Stephens has acknowledged making some of the remarks referenced in Mullett’s complaint, including:

• Telling a player he is the “wrong color” to play a certain position.

• Asking an African-American athlete whether he “went to jail” during a visit to Detroit, and joking about whether the student was a “thug” or a “gangbanger.”

• Using profanity while addressing players.

• Telling his economics class that IKEA is “like porn for girls.”

• Joking in front of a Mattawan social studies class about a “faggoty purple shirt.”

• Telling a group of players they need to spend more time in the weight room because they look like “Holocaust victims,” a remark some took as insensitive to Jews.

The district’s investigation also found that, while speaking at a state conference for football coaches where he was honored as a regional coach of the year, Stephens told the audience one of his players had a “smokin’ hot” mother.

Stephens denied other allegations in the complaint, including an accusation he told players that “darker” teams such as Kalamazoo Central and Loy Norrix high schools, where a majority of the players are African-American, are less intelligent and easier to fool.

He also denied using the term “whores” to describe cheerleaders, making references to his sex life, or intimidating or bullying students.

The coach, who also teaches social studies at the school, has been given one verbal reprimand and one written one. That’s it. But the superintendent says he thinks the school has “handled this situation in an appropriate and diligent manner.” And I have to mention this one exchange in the comments, which cracked me up. The first comment, which seems quite reasonable:

The coach has a clear problem with his filter, but ultimately the administration is responsible for the employees in the school district, especially when things have been brought to their attention repeatedly. The majority of football coaches are rarely known for their sensitive side and soft spoken nature. They, like any other employee, need to be managed appropriately.

And the response:

Managed appropriately!? Seriously?? KKK, ABORTION, HOLOCAUST!!


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  • Strewth

    It sounds like he went to the Rob Ford school of football coaching.

  • eric

    Telling his economics class that IKEA is “like porn for girls.”

    Makes them want to Bjone?

  • Modusoperandi

    Yup. Sounds like a coach, to me. The coach, you see, is the authority figure in the school who is there to teach you what not to emulate.


    eric “Makes them want to Bjone?”

    Obviously. The wife and I got banned from the store for Fjorken.

  • Alverant

    I admit, when I saw the headline I thought it was about a coach trying to convert the players to christianity. I didn’t realize it was so much worse (assuming all the allegations are true which wouldn’t surprise me). The superintendent does seem to be going easy on him though. I guess if you have a decent handegg* coach, little thinks like racism and sexism doesn’t matter much.

    *I’m taking a cue from a British comedian and start calling “football” “handegg” because their “ball” is shaped more like an egg and more often than not you carry it with your hands instead of kicking it with your feet. “Handegg” just makes more sense.

  • dukeofomnium

    Just looking at the things he admitted to, why is this man still allowed to teach, coach, or breathe air?

  • ArtK

    @ Alverant

    Since I started refereeing soccer, I’ve begun calling the American game “pointy ball.” “Handegg” is pretty good, though.

  • NitricAcid

    @#5. Of course he’s allowed to breathe air. We don’t cut someone off of oxygen for saying offensive things, even to high school students.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed reports:

    The coach, who also teaches social studies at the school . . .

    I’m betting the coach has zero qualifications in social studies.

  • Modusoperandi

    Michael Heath, that’s beyond the pale. He certainly does. If anything, he made it more efficient by cutting out all the stuff about or by homos, minorities and other foreigners, leaving more time to take the class out to the sports field and yell at them.

  • howardhershey

    As my wife complains, “Why is it alway social studies?” when she gets yet another student from the Ed school who says what he really wants to be is a (some ball) coach. They are almost invariably (but not universally) the worst students in her class.

  • Broken Things


    I distinctly remember my 10th grade biology ‘teacher’, a former kicker for some NFL team and an assistant coach at the school. I don’t think he had ever opened a biology book in his life, but the civics and history courses had actual teachers already in them (not that he would have opened any of those books either). They had to stick him somewhere so they inflicted him on us.

  • Larry

    Just looking at the things he admitted to, why is this man still allowed to teach, coach, or breathe air?

    Just a guess but I’d bet he has a winning record on the football field.

  • jnorris

    My high school had a very good psychology/sociology teacher who never played football in college. he became the head football coach and got the team a 10-0 season. Who would have guessed?

  • magistramarla

    At a professional development session, I was once randomly placed in a group with two football coaches, who also taught social studies (it is usually social studies!). Our assignment was to read a rather long paper about the psychology of teaching and then to present it to the rest of the faculty.

    The coaches took one look at the paper and declared that it was “too deep”. They offered to draw the charts for the presentations if I and the other member of the group would read the paper, plan the presentation and tell them what to draw. They then proceeded to talk together while the other teacher and I did the work.

    We both agreed that this was probably what they had been doing and getting away with since their own high school days. There were two things that really bothered us – (1) Our students were being taught social studies classes by those two doofuses and (2) Because of the generous stipends that Texas pays to coaches, especially football coaches, they were making twice the salaries that we were.

  • jws1

    magistramarla: those two probably also preached the importance of work ethic to their players. “Do as I say not as I do.”

  • Lithified Detritus

    Michael Heath @8

    I’m betting the coach has zero qualifications in social studies.

    This can actually get rather messy, due to legislative micromanagement.

    Under Michigan law, a teacher must be certified in their field. This used to be a major or minor in the field, but now a test will grant certification. Those who have the degree still need to take the test.

    Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, a teacher must be “highly qualified.” This means a major in the subject, or a bunch of hoop-jumping.

    This is where it can get silly. In my case, my undergrad major was biology, with a chemistry minor, and my Master’s was in general science. I am certified to teach both Biology and Chemistry, but I am not highly qualified to teach Chemistry, because it was a minor. I have not taught either of those subjects in 20 years – I have been teaching Earth Science. I am not certified to teach Earth Science, but since I have jumped through the hoops by taking coursework, I am highly qualified. Got it?

    This is what happens when politicians set educational policy.

  • Onamission5

    My middle school’s head male sportsball coach was, yes, also the social studies teacher for 7th and 8th grade. He taught more variations on the subject than required for passing credits– classes on Africa, China, USSR, as well as a series called Teens and Law where he gave us kids some extremely useful basics in criminology and the legal rights of minors– and was such a good teacher that many students took his courses as electives.

    My high school’s male coaches, on the other hand, taught Driver’s Ed, and something called Careers that for all the world seemed like the class that one puts ones star athletes into when one needs to raise their GPA so they can retain their sportsball eligibility.