Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry, expressing frustration Tuesday with the Falcons' slumping performance, attributed their latest loss in part to No. 20 Texas Christian's having more African American players who "can run very, very well."
DeBerry, in his 22nd year at the Air Force Academy, first mentioned the academy's lack of minority players compared with other schools while talking to reporters Monday.
He said Air Force needed to recruit faster players. "We were looking at things, like you don't see many minority athletes in our program," DeBerry told the Colorado Springs Gazette.
When questioned about the remarks during his weekly luncheon Tuesday, the coach didn't hesitate to elaborate.
"It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me they run extremely well," DeBerry said in remarks first broadcast Tuesday night by KWGN-TV in Denver.
Academy officials released a statement saying they were aware of the remarks.
"We cannot comment further until we have a chance to review all the reports, the coach's actual statements and to speak with the coach personally," said Lt. Col Laurent Fox, academy spokesman.
DeBerry, 67, is the winningest coach in service academy history with an overall record of 161-94-1. He has led 17 teams to winning seasons, and 12 have won bowl games.
This season, though, the Falcons are struggling. DeBerry is facing the prospect of consecutive losing seasons for the first time since becoming coach in 1984. Air Force lost, 48-10, to Texas Christian on Saturday, dropping to 3-5 overall and 2-4 in the Mountain West Conference. DeBerry found himself at the center of a controversy last year too. He hung a banner in the locker room that read in part "I am a member of Team Jesus Christ" a day after the academy's superintendent announced the school would do more to fight religious intolerance.