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WSU Men's Basketball

Jaylen Shead recounts disturbing racist remarks made by Texas State coach before transferring to Washington State

Washington State Cougars guard Jaylen Shead (23) draws a charging call against the New Mexico State Aggies during the second half of a college basketball game on Saturday, December 7, 2019, at Spokane Arena in Spokane, Wash. WSU won the game 63-54. Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Jaylen Shead transferred from Texas State to Washington State at a notably late stage of the 2019 college basketball offseason, officially signing to play for coach Kyle Smith on Sept. 27 – just 41 days before the Cougars opened the regular season at home against Seattle U.

The timing of Shead’s transfer felt bizarre, as did the nature of it, considering he had been the starting point guard for a Texas State team that won 24 games the season prior and was primed to reassume that role for the Bobcats as a senior.

Late Thursday afternoon, more than one week after George Floyd died while in police custody in Minnesota, Shead shared the reasoning behind his transfer, citing disturbing racially charged remarks – and other instances of racism – from coach Danny Kaspar while the point guard was playing for the Bobcats.

With four handwritten notes attached, Shead sent out the following tweet at 4:02 p.m.: “With all this going on, let’s talk about what I and other players dealt w (with) playing (basketball emoji) for Danny Kaspar at Texas State. Many asked why the starting PG on a 25 win, 1st place contender team would transfer before his senior szn.. well.”

In the three notes attached to the tweet, Shead called his experience playing for Kaspar “shocking” and claimed he could overlook “the lies he fed us to get us and keep us there,” and “the way he disregarded the rules and our health.”

In the tweet, Shead explains he “could not turn away from the many racially insensitive things that were said to me and other teammates.” Shead, who played in 12 games and started seven for the Cougars before suffering a season- and career-ending injury, said he transferred because he was afraid lashing out against Kaspar would diminish his chances of playing after college or becoming a coach.

“His words were not only insensitive to the black community, but others as well,” Shead wrote. “I chose to leave because I knew I’d eventually say something and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to to play anywhere or get a coaching job as I want to one day. But I am doing a disservice to those that come after. I watched as many people ignored or toned out his ways, but no more.”

Shead went on to cite seven instances of Kaspar making racially insensitive remarks to the Bobcats’ African American and European players.

According to Shead, the following instances occurred:

    Kaspar encouraged players to speed up during suicide running drills by telling them to “chase that chicken.”

    When the Bobcats were not moving at the desired pace during a close-out drill, Kaspar said, “If a brown man with a turban and AK-47 walked in, I bet y’all would run as fast as you could.”

    A European player, thought to be forward Nedeljko Prijovic by former San Marcos Record Texas State beat writer Ishmael Johnson, was told during practice, “A lot of the boosters/alumni here at (Texas State) are Trump supporters. You keep messing up, I’ll have you deported.”

    In one instance, when Texas State players were talking among each other in a hallway, one of them used the N-word, to which Kasper responded, “If y’all can say the N-word, that means I can say it.”

  • When teammates noted that Shead was moving fast running suicides during practice, Kasper said, “He’s running like the cops are behind him.”
  • Following the semester, after final grades were posted, Kaspar met with players in the weight room and made assumptions as to where they’d be working based on their grade-point-average, Shead said. “(Player A) got a 2.2 GPA, he’ll be working at Popeyes Chicken. (Player B) got a 2.9 GPA, he’ll be a manager at Hertz.”

“Most of the jobs he predicted for us were catered toward Black stereotypes,” Shead wrote in the tweet.

Shead used one more example that pointed toward Kaspar’s racial insensitivity. In a team handbook, the coach prohibited players from wearing certain clothing items and accessories – “certain items that only the Black players wore such as do-rags and earrings,” the player wrote.

According to Shead, Kaspar also imposed guidelines regarding the length of players’ hair and indicated players couldn’t wear twists or deadlocks “because it made us look like ‘gangsters.’ ”

“This also included tattoos, which I personally have many of that I’ve explained to him several times their meaning and my love for art but he still gave off his opinion of how ‘tacky’ they were and that I was ‘better than that,’ ” Shead wrote.

Responding to a Twitter user, Shead said he made an attempt to address Kaspar about his behavior but “got wrote off as uncoachable” and “had to help myself first to continue my career.”

Shead didn’t respond Thursday to a direct message on Twitter from The Spokesman-Review for an interview. Texas State media relations did not reply to an email seeking comment Thursday.

Alex Peacock, a forward who played at Texas State with Shead, expressed support for his teammate in a tweet, posting, “I stand with my boy jaylen and everything he says 100%.”

Another former Texas State player, Deris Duncan, told radio station KTSW 89.9 he believes “Kaspar is not a racist.”

“He invited players who had no place to go for Thanksgiving over to his house to spend it with his family every year and his wife would make us our favorite desserts for each of our birthdays during the season,” Duncan said in a story posted on the station’s website. “He invited me and my wife this past Thanksgiving as well as others. A racist would not allow a whole team of black men over to his house.”

Both Peacock and Duncan are Black.

In a separate tweet, Shead indicated that at his first school, Cal Poly, former Mustangs coach Joe Callero advised his African American players against “living too far from campus or with other black players (because) that would cause problems.”

The Pflugerville, Texas, native played for the Mustangs for less than two full seasons before transferring to Texas State and eventually grad transferring to WSU.

Shead said he relished his time at WSU and said he wished “it could’ve lasted longer” because of the relationship he built with Smith, the program’s first-year coach.

“Coach Smith is one of the most genuine human beings I’ve ever met,” Shead wrote. “I could not have been happier with the short time I was at Wazzu.”

As primarily a ball distributor for the Cougars, Shead averaged 2.9 points, 2.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game in 22.8 minutes per game.