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."
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.