Jim Hayford resigned as Seattle University men’s basketball coach Thursday afternoon, less than a week after he was placed on administrative leave and a report was published stating he had twice repeated a racial slur.
It appears from the university’s news release that Hayford was forced out after four seasons as the team’s coach.
“It is clear to me that Coach Hayford is no longer able to effectively lead the team,” Seattle U athletic director Shaney Fink said in the release.
Fink declined to comment further, saying that it was a personnel matter.
Chris Victor will serve as interim head coach for the rest of the season, and he was in charge Wednesday as the Redhawks opened the season with a 69-66 win over Alcorn State.
Hayford was placed on administrative leave Nov. 5, one day before a report published by Stadium Basketball Insider’s Jeff Goodman said that Hayford repeated the “N-word” once during the summer and again on Nov. 4.
Goodman wrote that the latest incident occurred after a Black player used the word during a scrimmage, and an official noticed. Hayford reportedly repeated the word in an effort to curtail its use.
According to the report, Hayford said: “Did you say the N-word?”
It is unclear from Goodman’s report whether Hayford used the full, actual slur or used the common shorthand to refer to the slur. Seattle University did not release any more details about what led to Hayford’s resignation, but officials also have not denied what Goodman published in his report.
Goodman cited unnamed sources who said that Hayford apologized to the team Friday, but a majority of players refused to play for him.
The next day, the university announced that Hayford had been placed on leave. And now he is out.
“I have always held the belief that the use of racial slurs has no place in society, despite their origin,” Hayford wrote in a statement to The Seattle Times. “However, my recent attempts at curtailing the use of a repugnant word within my own program was misguided and created division among our student-athletes to whom I have apologized. Given the result, and in the best interest of the program, I have chosen to resign my position as head men’s basketball coach at Seattle U. I wish them all the best this season.”
Players were not made available to comment on the situation after Wednesday night’s game.
But on Thursday night, fifth-year senior Aaron Nettles said on Twitter: “The events of the past few weeks have been humiliating and is not indicative of what we stand for as a team. Hearing offensive and racially insensitive remarks from our leader has been both disheartening and emotional. We are thankful for the way in which our athletic department handled the situation, allowing us to refocus our collective effort on the season and each game in front of us.
“We stand together as we move forward.
“– Seattle U Basketball Family.”
In the school’s release, Fink said, “Seattle University has initiated a review of the climate within the program.”
“We are committed to advancing an athletic community that is inclusively excellent,” Fink said in the release. “We will take additional steps to ensure any concerns within the program are addressed and that all our student athletes are seen, heard, and supported.”
Hayford had a record of 64-55 at Seattle U. He has an overall record of 424-230, with previous stints at Sioux Falls, Whitworth and Eastern Washington.
Victor coached for two seasons under Hayford at Eastern Washington before joining Hayford at Seattle U when he was hired to replace Cameron Dollar.
Victor helped lead Concordia to a NAIA national title as a player in 2003, and he has five years of head coaching experience, compiling a 103-39 record at Citrus College in Glendora, California.