A Michigan State hockey player said he was the target of a racial slur on multiple occasions during a game against Ohio State earlier this month.
Jagger Joshua, who is Black, took to social media Monday night to detail the incident, which he says took place during the Nov. 11 game between the Spartans and the Buckeyes in East Lansing.
Joshua said one of the Ohio State players directed the slur at him “multiple times” during the course of the game. In one instance, an official heard the slur, Joshua says, and issued the Buckeyes’ player a misconduct penalty. The box score shows an Ohio State player was given a 10-minute “game misconduct” penalty in the second period.
However, Joshua said that the Big Ten and Ohio State investigated the incident and opted not to take any further action, a decision he said left him feeling “confused and pessimistic.”
“Acts of racism do not belong in hockey, as they can discourage African Americans and minorities like myself from playing and loving the game,” Joshua wrote on Twitter. “Inaction in the face of racist comments and actions allow these behaviors to continue.
“The inaction has left me feeling confused and pessimistic about the movement of diversity within hockey culture,” Joshua added. “The ignorance of racism does not belong in our game. And I feel that I need to make people aware that this incident occurred, because without acknowledgement, the problem gets worse.”
The Big Ten, in response to an inquiry from The Detroit News, said in a statement Monday it “collected and evaluated” information from the officiating crew, Ohio State and Michigan State, as well as available video footage, before deciding not to take additional action. The conference did say it supported the official’s decision to issue the misconduct penalty.
“Due to the absence of indisputable evidence presented to the conference, the conference has not imposed further disciplinary action,” the Big Ten said in a statement, per The Detroit News. “The Big Ten Conference is committed to providing our student-athletes inclusive environments free from acts of harassment or discrimination in any form. The safety and well-being of our campus communities remains our top priority.”
Ohio State also issued a statement to The Detroit News, saying it worked “collaboratively” with the Big Ten to reach a resolution on the matter.
“The Ohio State department of athletics and the men’s hockey program worked collaboratively with the Big Ten Conference to come to a resolution in response to the allegation of misconduct toward the Big Ten sportsmanship policy,” Ohio State’s athletic department said in a statement.
“Ohio State is focused on providing an inclusive and supportive environment for all. The department is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all. Our Buckeye Inclusion committee has done an outstanding job with providing education and awareness across our department, both for students and staff. We are committed to recognizing our remarkable diversity and utilizing our core values to ensure everyone attending or participating in an athletic event feels safe and welcome.”
It remains unclear whether any Buckeyes player, including the one Joshua says used the slur that led to the game misconduct penalty, received any discipline from the university. The player who received the misconduct penalty—whom Joshua did not identify publicly—has played in both of Ohio State’s games since the Nov. 11 contest against Michigan State.
Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller and hockey coach Adam Nightingale expressed their support for Joshua in a pair of statements posted on Twitter.
“Michigan State athletics stands with Jagger Joshua, and commends him for having the courage to speak up against racial injustice,” Haller wrote. “As a department, we are committed to providing opportunities for all student-athletes to compete in a space free from discrimination, racism or hate.”
Nightingale added: “At Michigan State, we are committed to a safe and welcoming space for our student-athletes. It is important to me that all student-athletes feel comfortable and supported in our locker room and in our program. I am proud to have Jagger Joshua on our team.”