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Kent State suspends wrestler for anti-gay tweets

By Allen Moff | staff writer Published: February 11, 2014 4:00 AM
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Kent State University sophomore wrestler Sam Wheeler has been suspended indefinitely after making derogatory anti-gay comments on his Twitter account in reference to University of Missouri football star defensive end Michael Sam on Monday.

Wheeler, a former Copley High School standout who spent one semester at Oklahoma before transferring to Kent State in January of 2012, first tweeted the message: "I can't even watch sportscenter today cause all there talking about is marcus smart or that f** from mizzou...."

Sam spoke publicly about his sexual orientation for the first time in an interview with The New York Times on Sunday. He has played the past five years under Tigers coach Gary Pinkel, a former Kent State standout football player, and earned First Team All-American honors last season.

Wheeler later exchanged a few tweets with others who defended Sam and gays. His Twitter account was then deactivated shortly thereafter, but his messages had already gained national attention. It was the top story on the website "Outrage" (www.outragedc.com) by early Monday afternoon.

Kent State Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen released the following statement early Monday evening: "We are aware of the insensitive tweets by one of our student-athletes. 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. This is an educational opportunity for all of our student-athletes."

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Flashes wrestling coach Jim Andrassy also released a statement: "As an alum of Kent State University and as Sam's head coach, I was surprised and offended by what I read on Twitter. 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."

Wheeler qualified for the NCAA Championships as a freshman last season, and is currently 27-5 at 184 pounds this year. He is ranked 13th in the country by InterMat.

Missouri's wrestling team, a member of the Mid-American Conference for the first time this season, will battle Kent State on Feb. 21. at the M.A.C. Center.

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trawl Feb 11, 2014 5:22 PM

Sortt of funny that someone whose sport is grappling with other men with the intent of domination and placing the other man in a submissive position also has a problem with homosexuality.

Freudian, maybe?

And @ NunyaBizness,

I too believe the suspension is proper.

Kent State works hard at not excluding anyone only to have a representitive of KSU display exclusinary beliefs to the world.



NunyaBizness Feb 11, 2014 3:11 PM

Kent State Student-Athlete Handbook, p. 85:

"Athletic Department Policy: Participation in intercollegiate athletics at Kent State University is a privilege, not a right. Athletic Department conduct policy currently states, 'Student-athletes shall conduct themselves in a manner befitting highly visible members of the university community at all times, and abide by all rules established by the university, department, and head coach.'"

Wheeler directly violated the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct and has been properly suspended. 

bh2014 Feb 11, 2014 2:19 PM

I hope the University will take this incident as an opportunity to create a better understanding of the impact of social media with all students and and that it will set standards for KSU representatives promoting social responsibility.  I could be wrong, but it doesn't sbund like that was done prior to this indefinite suspension. Regardless of our what our views are, we are entitled to have them.  It's the "how we choose to share them" that is not without limitations.  If you represent a university, place of business, or organization....you are one of it's voices, like it or not.  I thinks it's pretty clear that many people have gotten themselves caught up in this social media frenzy and have lost sight that what you say effects just about everyone that comes into contact with what you said.  In this case the KSU community, Kent residents, anyone who reads the newspaper or watches the news.....and I would imagine the friends and family of the young man who tweeted, have been effected.  Unfortunately, those using the trend of social media have had a plethera of TERRIBLE role models who say anything they want to get people to "follow" them.  There is little or no consequence to the offensives they make though sometimes their "followers" get disgusted enough to stop "following" them.  I've heard it's very easy to be really mean, bullyish, offensive, and irresponsible when you aren't saying it directly to someone's face. Often, the most controversial  tweeters are our young peoples role models......reality tv personalities, Hollywood celebraties....and PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES. That's just a sad, sad, sad shame.  I hope the University will realize there are big problems with social media out there and that they have an opportunity here to work with students in understanding the impact of words spoken and/or tweeted.  The constitution provides freedom of speech......and as we all know that freedom can come at a price.  We can do better, folks......we can do better.

watchingthewatchers Feb 11, 2014 12:38 PM

Good for Sam Wheeler in recognizing the gay propaganda that is endlessly forced on us and speaking out on it.  I applaud HIS COURAGE for speaking out on the brainwashing attempts to push a lifestyle that spreads disease and increasingly targets children.  The Kent State Athletic Director is an idiot who should be removed.  He should be sent to Brown University or some other embarrassing non-education institution.  The coach is probably just protecting his job by voicing the views of his Stalinist boss and "his" Stalinist boss, so I'll give him a pass. 

Homosexuality is a religion to the modern deviant and they exhibit the same radical zealotry in pushing it as does the "religion of peace" Islamic zealots do in forcing their religion on others.   Why don't you all get back in the closet and LEAVE US ALONE with your radical zealotry!

The player from MO is a jerk for even mentioning it.  Apparently, he fears he won't get drafted and is auditioning for a job with the GSPN(Gay Sports Network) that was formerly ESPN?

Get rid of this embarrassment of an athletic director. 

anonymous Feb 11, 2014 10:22 AM

*** this what we are to expect from our KSU’s new CEO?  Here is a university that allowed communist to march across its’ campus and burn down the University’s building and called that free speech. Now this young man speaks out and expresses a religious belief that his held by millions of Christians and non Christians in this country and this young man is suspended. What happened to his free speech or is it that free speech only applies to what the University wants you to think and say. As an Alumnus, I am appalled by this action. I think Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen and Flashes wrestling Coach Jim Andrassy should be suspended for taking away Mr. Wheelers Constitutional right to free speech.  This whole thing reeks of the labor camps that were part of Communist China’s way or “reeducating” those that did not agree with the communist teaching.

If our new CEO allows this suspension to continue, I say send her back to  where she came from, we do not want the kind of leader ship that takes or constitutional rights away and calls it education. I plan to ask that all state funds to KSU be with held until this young man’s rights are restored to him and all other students there.

ARayOfSunshine Feb 11, 2014 8:18 AM

Wow.   While I'm NOT ANTI-GAY I believe that everyone has the right to express their opinion. With that being said, I'm also not a huge fan of homophobes because I know how hateful they can be.  However, it isn't like he threatened the Gay community.  It is a shame that he isn't allowed to express how it makes him feel, but yet Michael Sam is.  This boy coming out of the closet for what ever reason and announcing it to the Nation is beyond me.  Seriously what is the point?  National fame?  That probably came with a price.  He is poking the bear sort of speak, by doing so.  What you do behind your closed doors is your business, as long as the partner is consenting, of age and no harm is coming to them.  Get a grip America.  Perhaps if we would have ignored his coming out, none of this would be happening.