The man behind a racist social media post showing Florida State head football coach Willie Taggart being lynched is now out of a job, a spokeswoman for Hilton Garden Vacations announced in a statement Monday.
“Our concern regarding this situation has been a top priority,” Lauren George, a company spokesperson, said without naming the employee. “The person responsible for posting this information has been terminated. His behavior was in violation of multiple company policies and the furthest example from being a reflection of our company’s values.”
As first reported by ESPN, the racist meme was posted in an FSU fan group on Facebook shortly after the Seminoles fell to rival University of Florida in a 41-14 loss on Saturday, bringing the season to a disappointing end. The post showed Taggart’s face superimposed over the image of a man being lynched, with the caption “Believe In Something, Even If It Means Sacrificing Your Rep.”
It wasn’t long before the meme went viral, sparking swift outrage.
FSU president John Thrasher condemned the post, calling it “ignorant and despicable.” Thrasher added that the incident is now being investigated by the Florida state’s attorney.
“I speak for the entire FSU community in expressing our disgust and extreme disappointment, and I’m glad the state attorney is investigating,” he said in a statement. “Coach Taggart has our full support and as true Seminoles know, he is a respected member of the FSU family.”
The lynching meme was shared by a Facebook account belonging to an FSU alum named Tom Shand, who has since deleted all his social media pages. An active LinkedIn account belonging to a person of the same name listed Shand as a “Club Counselor at Grand Hilton Vacations,” although the company has not confirmed his identity.
The image has since been removed from Facebook.
Taggart became Florida State’s first Black football head coach last year after being hired from Oregon. He lead the team to its first losing season since 1976, however, resulting in the Seminoles not qualifying for a postseason bowl game for the first time in 37 years.