EMU: ‘Inappropriate language,’ slur led to firing of coach

YPSILANTI, Mich. — Eastern Michigan Athletic Director Heather Lyke said fired football coach Ron English used “wholly inappropriate language,” included a homophobic slur, during a film session with defensive backs last month.

EMU announced English’s dismissal Friday. On Saturday, the school released a statement from Lyke saying she’d received a tape of English addressing the team. She called his statements “absolutely unacceptable.”

Lyke says the tape was only one of “a lot of factors” that led to her decision to change coaches.

“We hold our coaches and staff to high standards of professionalism and conduct and there is no place, particularly in a student environment, where this language is appropriate,” Lyke said. “The statements made by Coach English are absolutely unacceptable. My decision to make a change in leadership of our football program was the culmination of a lot of factors including the comprehensive review of our program, the competitive performance and this tape.

“Our primary interest is in the well-being and success of our student-athletes and this will continue to be our priority in every decision we make and every action we take,” Lyke said in her statement Saturday. “My focus moving forward is on the quality of our student-athletes’ experience as well as the search process for the next leader of our football program.

The Eagles were 1-8 when English was fired. English went 11-46 at the Mid-American Conference school.

Eastern Michigan rallied Saturday afternoon to defeat Western Michigan 35-32 in overtime under interim coach Stan Parrish.

English expressed regret in an interview with The Associated Press.

“As a man who has coached 21 years, obviously, on this occasion and particular meeting, I lost my poise, got upset and used language that was inappropriate, particularly as it pertains to homosexual slurs. I regret that,” English said in a telephone interview Saturday. “I apologize to the university for putting it in this position and tarnishing its reputation. I look forward to continuing a career that has been marked by molding men of integrity, passion, and intensity for 21 years.”

English was hired before the 2009 season, and the former Michigan defensive coordinator went 2-22 in his first two years with the Eagles. Eastern Michigan was 6-6 in 2011, falling one win short of bowl eligibility because two of its victories were against Football Championship Subdivision teams. After snapping a streak of 15 straight losing seasons, the Eagles were 2-10 last year and lost eight in a row this season before beating the Broncos.

During the skid, English said he lost his poise and got upset while reviewing film with the team’s defensive backs.

“I’ve never been around a place where so many good guys go bad,” English is heard saying during the address the school’s athletic director acquired. “It’s bad. It’s as bad as I’ve ever been around.”

SMU

Returner Taylor hit in head, test negative: In Cincinnati, Southern Methodist freshman JaBryce Taylor was hit in the head on a kickoff return and taken off the field on a stretcher Saturday, but a test found no serious injury.

Taylor was hurt during the second quarter of SMU’s 28-25 loss to Cincinnati.

He stumbled and was hit in the head as he was tackled. He remained face-down on the field but moved his arms and legs.

The medical staff called for a back support, rolled him over, strapped him to a stretcher and took him to an ambulance. Coach June Jones said a CT test at a hospital was negative and Taylor was going home with the team.

Taylor is SMU’s primary punt and kickoff returner. He has caught seven passes for 127 yards.