College wrestler Sam Wheeler has been suspended by Kent State University indefinitely for anti-gay remarks made on Twitter regarding a University of Missouri football player who publicly revealed his orientation this weekend, the Kent, Ohio-based school announced Monday.
The Akron Beacon-Journal reported that a photo on the gay web site Outrage captured Wheeler’s tweets which included these statements: “I can’t even watch Sports Center today cause all they are talking about is Marcus Smart or that (gay slur) from Mizzou…” The photo showed Wheeler’s last tweet, “O geez I got all these (slur) boys mad at me now.”
Wheeler referenced two college athletes in the news, Michael Sam, a Missouri All-American defensive end and potential NFL draftee who came out as gay this weekend, and Oklahoma State basketball player Marcus Smart who was suspended for three games after shoving a fan at a game at Texas Tech.
Wheeler’s Twitter account has since been closed.
Both Wheeler’s coach and the Kent State director of athletics quickly issued statements against Wheeler’s comments.
“As an alum of Kent State University and as Sam’s head coach, I was surprised and offended by what I read on Twitter,” said Jim Andrassy, the Golden Flashes’ head wrestling coach. “I have spoken to Sam personally, and while he is remorseful, he will be suspended indefinitely while we determine the best course of action moving forward.”
In a statement released by the school, athletic director Joel Nielson said, “On behalf of Kent State University, we consider these comments to be ignorant and not indicative of the beliefs held by our university community as a whole.”
In quoting the Kent State Student-Athlete Handbook, the website KentWired.com reported, “Student athletes are considered ‘highly visible” members of the community… They are required to ‘set an example for fellow students’ and to act as ‘ambassadors of the university.’”
Wheeler, 20, is a sophomore who is 26-5 this season competing at 184 pounds. Born in Phoenix, Ariz., Wheeler attended Copley High School in northeast Ohio, where, in addition to playing football, was a Division I state wrestling champ as a senior at 189 pounds and was state runner-up as a junior at 171 pounds. He transferred to Kent State from the University of Oklahoma in January 2012.
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