The Florida state’s attorney is investigating a racist Facebook post targeting Florida State University head football coach Willie Taggart, who was the subject of a meme depicting him being hanged from a tree.
A screenshot of the meme posted by a fan to Facebook shows Taggart’s face superimposed onto an image of a man being lynched with the caption, “Believe In Something, Even If It Means Sacrificing Your Rep,” ESPN.com reported. The offensive image began circulating on social media Saturday night after the Florida State Seminoles closed out the season with a crushing 41-14 loss to rival University of Florida.
FSU alum Tom Shand is reportedly behind the racist meme and has since shuttered all his social media accounts, except for a LinkedIn account that lists him as a “Club Counselor at Grand Hilton Vacations.” According to screenshots, when a fellow Facebook user questioned if Shand was serious, he replied, “I’m dead fucking serious … This is how far I’m willing to get rid of this clown!!!”
University president John Thrasher quickly decried the photo and defended Taggart against the racist attack.
“A recent racist social media post aimed at our football coach is ignorant and despicable,” Thrasher said in a statement posted to FSU’s Twitter account. “I speak for the entire FSU community in expressing our disgust and extreme disappointment, and I’m glad the state attorney is investigating.”
“Coach Taggart has our full support and as true Seminoles know, he is a respected member of the FSU family,” Thrasher added.
Several students and supporters of the FSU community were equally outraged over the meme and wanted to see Shand pay for his actions.
“This is disgusting,” one critic wrote. “I’m a disappointed FSU fan but this is too much. I never wish terrible things on people, but I hope that
#tomshand gets fired.”
“Love to see [Thrasher] come out to support your coach like that,” another user chimed in. “Truly some sick people out there. If there’s something I think the Gator nation and the Seminole nation can agree on is that blatant racism cannot be tolerated.”
Taggart, who’s the college’s first African-American football coach, was hired last December from Oregon but has failed to lead to the storied team to many victories this season. In his first season, Taggart led the Seminoles to a disappointing 5-7 record, and after Saturday’s loss, failed to qualify the team for a postseason bowl game for the first time since 1981.
This is also the university’s first losing season since 1976.
Fans upset over Taggart’s lackluster leadership have taken a less-racist route and launched a GoFundMe campaign to buy the coach out of his contract “so that FSU doesn’t go bankrupt trying to hire a real D1 Coach.” So far, the page has only raised $126.