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Jaylen Shead’s powerful statements about his time at Texas State and Cal Poly gives both schools the opportunity to make things right

Shead played for Danny Kaspar in 2018-19 and Joe Callero from 2015-17.

Seattle v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

At a time when Americans nationwide are being forced to acknowledge the systemic racism that surrounds them, former Cal Poly Mustang and Texas State Bobcat Jaylen Shead is speaking out.

The guard played for Cal Poly from 2015-17 and Texas State in 2018-19, before finishing his career with Washington State.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, Shead accused former Mustangs coach Joe Callero and current Bobcats coach Danny Kaspar of making racist remarks during his time on each campus.

Shead’s tweets come amid nationwide protests over both the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer and the broader pattern of police brutality toward the Black American community. As people have marched in the streets, donated their money to worthwhile causes, and promoted minority-owned businesses on social media, college basketball programs and universities as a whole have released statements condemning racism, police brutality, and more.

Texas State men’s basketball participated in #BlackoutTuesday this week in solidarity with the racial justice movement. University president Denise Trauth said the following in a statement last week:

In times like this – when our nation’s attention is turned to the destructive toll racism takes in our communities – we are reminded of how critical it is that we remain steadfast in our commitment to advancing a Texas State culture of equity and inclusion.

With these accusations against Kaspar coming to light, now is the time for Texas State to show that its actions on the Internet are more than merely lip service during a time when standing up for social justice is also good PR.

If Kaspar isn’t, at minimum, subject to a thorough internal investigation in which players, coaches, and administrators have a voice, then that is exactly what this will be. The university owes it to its current and former students to take these accusations seriously.

The Cal Poly situation is a little different as Callero is no longer part with the program, but Shead does say he told the athletic director about his accusations at the time. While there is no current coach to investigate, the university still owes answers about why Shead’s concerns were, as he put it, laughed off.

Many have wondered what happens when the protests die down and the Instagram stories become selfies and memes once again. Thanks to Shead, we have the chance to learn the answer on two college campuses. He’s given both schools the opportunity to do right by their black students and he should be applauded for having the guts to do that. He’s already faced some backlash from fans and he’s going to receive more. He knows that. He can live with that because he knows that getting his message out is more important.

The question is whether Texas State and Cal Poly have the integrity to do the same. It is June, and college athletics won’t return until August at the soonest. There’s no need to fire anybody today. But if fall sports start and we don’t see action from either school, it will be a disgrace. A former college basketball player can’t be the only one with a backbone.

As for Kaspar and Callero, we’re going to hear their perspectives as well. It’s not my place to decide what they need to say or what would qualify as an adequate apology. But I do know this: Shead said in his tweet that he was afraid to come forward because he didn’t know what the repercussions would be. He retweeted someone who shared a similar sentiment.

That’s not acceptable. It’s on everyone — coaches especially — to make sure the culture of their program is one where players can share their concerns.