FSU President Condemns Racist Facebook Post Featuring HC Willie Taggart

Willie Taggart
Head coach Willie Taggart of the Florida State Seminoles coaching in the second half against the Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium on October 6, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Florida State president John Thrasher condemned a racist social media post featuring football head coach Willie Taggart on Sunday and said the university would investigate into the incident, which will be conducted by the state attorney.

A screenshot of a meme posted to Facebook displayed Taggart's head photoshopped onto the body of a man being lynched with the caption "Believe in Something Even If It Means Sacrificing Your Rep."

"A recent racist social media post aimed at our football coach is ignorant and despicable," Thrasher said in a statement released on Florida State's Twitter account. "I speak for the entire FSU community in expressing our disgust and extreme disappointment, and I am glad the state attorney is investigating.

"Coach Taggart has our full support and as true Seminoles know, he is a respected member of the FSU family."

The image began circulating on Saturday night after the Seminoles lost 41-14 to in-state rival Florida and fell one-game short of securing bowl eligibility. The post was made in the Facebook group "Florida State Football" and was posted by an account user listed as Tom Shand, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

When asked by another fan in the thread if the person was serious, the user, via the Shand account, responded, "I'm dead [expletive] serious. This is how far I'm willing to go to get rid of this clown!!!"

Several fans managed to take screenshots of the post before it was deleted and have since called for Shand to be fired from his job. The Sentinel used his Facebook name to locate what appeared to be Shand's LinkedIn account, which claims he worked for Hilton Grand Vacations in Orlando. The company couldn't be reached to confirm Shand's employment or comment on the incident as it was closed during the weekend, according to the Sentinel.

Shand's social media accounts featured extensive posts about FSU football and his LinkedIn page indicates that he attended Florida State University from 1997-2000. Fans also found previous posts from Shand's Facebook directed at former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith which also feature a similar racial undertone.

Facebook and Twitter accounts under Shand's name were both deleted as of Sunday afternoon.

Taggart became the first black football coach in Florida State history after joining the program last December following one season at Oregon. The 42-year-old began his tenure with high expectations, inheriting a team that was just three years removed from an ACC championship and four from a national title.

However, the Seminoles stumbled through a disappointing 5-7 season, failing to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 1981 and suffering their first losing season since 1976.

Following Saturday's loss, Taggart promised to improve after a disappointing first season and urged fans to never lower their expectations for the football program.