UNC football player in blackface on Facebook

February 27, 2008 1:27:58 PM PST
Eyewitness News has a follow up to a special report we brought you in November about college athletes and their personal Web pages.

Specifically, Facebook and the pictures they're posting on them -- pictures that could get them in trouble.

Back then, we showed officials from the big three Triangle universities pictures of their athletes drinking under age. The schools told us they would crack down. But since then, we've found new pictures -- pictures that shocked us and may shock you.

Just when you thought society had moved on photos like the ones on the Facebook page surface.

"Wow," said UNC junior Stephen Norris and he viewed the images.

"It is disturbing," freshman Jay Hold said.

"A lot of people would have taken offense to these kinds of pictures," freshman Jason Bost said.

The UNC students were look at pictures from a Facebook page of a white man at a Halloween party with his arms and face painted black.

"It seems pretty racist to me, it's clearly someone dressed up in blackface," Norris said.

The guy is wearing a Michael Vick jersey and a big clock dangles from his neck.

"So this is supposed to be like Flava Flav or something?" Hold asked.

"I guess they're just trying to put together a whole bunch of black images and make it funny, but it's not funny," Norris.

Even less funny to some is that the man in blackface has had the pictures on his Facebook page since November 2006 and that he a football player at UNC.

Eyewitness News found the photos just months after showing pictures of football players from all three Triangle universities drinking under age to campus officials.

Back then, UNC's head football coach, Butch Davis, assured ABC11's Rebecca Hall that his staff would better monitor what their players posts on all social networking sites.

"We try to educate the players and talk to them about their roles as role models and then also about privacy," Davis told Eyewitness News in November 2007.

University Chancellor James Moeser wouldn't comment on the pictures. He referred Eyewitness News to the athletic department.

Athletics said the whole thing was a non issue, irrelevant and that, "these pictures are from a Halloween party from two years ago, and it's never been mentioned."

Sports Information Director Steve Kirschner went on to say the player wasn't trying to be insensitive -- that he was dressing up like Michael Vick. Vick was arguably the most popular player in the NFL at that time, he added.

"None if his teammates have raised an issue," Kirschner said.

But every single student Eyewitness News showed the photos to on campus strongly disagreed. Some called it racism hidden by a costume.

"He's basically making fun on his black counterparts," Hold said.

"It's pretty bad to have attached to your athletic department and attached to your university," Norris said.

"Yeah, blackface is kind of a no-no," sophomore Chris Heins said. "Why? You just don't do it!

"I'm pretty sure some of his teammates would be very upset because there are a lot of African-American males on the football team," senior Alecia Brown said.

Brown is one of nearly 6,000 members of another Facebook group dedicated to stopping blackface photos.

"These racist feelings should be gone, but i guess they're not," Brown said.

She believes it will take a massive outcry for UNC's administration to do anything about the issue -- an outcry that's already begun.

"I definitely think that something needs to be done or said because it's pretty offensive," Norris said.

UNC's Kirschner did call Eyewitness News back after his initial comments to add that while the player wasn't trying to be insensitive, "it is questionable and highly debatable if it is in good taste of judgment any time a person dresses or portrays themselves as a person of another race."


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