Ohio St. apologizes to Michigan St. hockey player after racial slur

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith released a statement late Tuesday night after a Michigan State hockey player alleged that a Buckeyes player addressed a racial slur to him at several times during a game earlier this month.

Spartans player Jagger Joshua, who is black, shared his experience on social media from the Nov. 11 home game in which the Spartans beat the Buckeyes 4-3.

Joshua said a match official overheard what the opposing player said and gave him a misconduct penalty. The box score that day shows Ohio State senior forward Kamil Sadlocha was the only player misconducted in the game.

After reviewing the situation, Smith publicly apologized on behalf of Ohio State and announced that Sadlocha was not currently with the team.

“I want to extend my sincere and sincere apologies to Jagger Joshua. On behalf of The Ohio State University, I am truly sorry,” Smith wrote. “No student or student-athlete should experience hate or racism, and everyone should feel welcome. I spoke with Michigan State Athletic Director Alan Haller and I’m grateful that Jagger get the support they need.

“Over the past week, the athletic department has been working through this on-ice incident and speaking with Kamil Sadlocha and the rest of the team, and Kamil is returning home and will not be training or competing at this time.

“I met with the men’s hockey team and will meet again soon to discuss our values. The team will complete education on racial sensitivity, diversity, equity, inclusion and the use respectful dialogue. The department and I will support them through this important process.”

The Big Ten gathered and evaluated information from the conference referee team, both from schools and video footage, and it supported the penalty in play against the Buckeyes, but decided not to impose new punishment.

“Due to the absence of compelling evidence presented to the conference, the conference has imposed no further disciplinary action,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

Joshua said he was motivated to share his version of events publicly because racism in sport will get worse if not acknowledged.

“Acts of racism have no place in hockey because they can discourage African Americans and minorities like me from playing and enjoying the game,” Joshua wrote in his post. “Inaction in the face of racist comments and actions allows these behaviors to continue.

“The inaction has left me perplexed and pessimistic about the diversity movement within hockey culture.”

Prior to Smith’s statement, Ohio State said its athletic department and hockey program worked with the Big Ten to reach a resolution.

“Ohio State is focused on providing an inclusive and supportive environment for all,” the school said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Catherine J. Martinez