|Coach Sean McKinney|
Last week, former Minor League Baseball player Tyler Dunnington spoke to Outsports to share his story of the homophobia he experienced while playing both in college and for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, a team affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Even though he was closeted at the time, it was the language he heard from other players and coaches - yes, coaches - that wore heavily on his soul.
Dunnington recalled being on the field one day when a coach mentioned in passing, "We kill gay people in Wyoming." Tyler never named the coach or any individuals. He eventually stepped away from the game that had given him so much joy.
After that report broke and investigation was done, and that coach - Sean McKinney of Colorado Mesa University - stepped up and took responsibility for the comment. McKinney says the comment, in the moment, was meant to be "humorous," not fully understanding the impact of his language.
The university president and others at CMU are now collaborating with the school's Gay/Straight Alliance and One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian gay bisexual and transgender people to improve the atmosphere for LGBT athletes at the school.
“As the story spread and more stuff was revealed, it got really tough this week,” McKinney told Outsports in an exclusive interview. “I’m forever in debt to the people in this university and my friends and family. They know my true character. Some of that is in question, obviously, because of what’s gone on with Tyler’s story. But I would never harm anyone on our team. This week I’m sure this has been questions about how I feel about Tyler. I hope he’s OK. I called him this morning to apologize. I want him to have a good life.”
"I've made some off-the-cuff comments, and one in particular was not right. Tyler heard it, and I apologized for it. Through this process I'm learning everyone's stories and what the impact of our language is."
"This has been a tremendous learning experience. In meetings with our president and people across campus, I think this is going to go in a very positive direction. I'll focus on my team and my guys to raise awareness. This is an experience we can use to move forward. I've talked to all of our players. We've had conversations, and they've gone great. And that will have a ripple affect across our campus."
McKinney says this past week has been "life-changing" for him and he looks forward to the opportunity to turn this to a positive conversation.
You can watch the press conference at Colorado Mesa University here.
|Out baseball player Tyler Dunnington during his Minor League Baseball days|