Louisville fires minority tennis coach over alleged racist remarks

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“How many Indians are going to walk in this building?”  

“Whites are better than black people.”  

“You guys didn’t take your tampons out.”   

“Don’t be a girl. We don’t go to Panera Bread, only girls eat there.”

Those were a handful of quotes attributed to Rex Ecarma who was fired after nearly 30 years as coach of the University of Louisville men’s tennis team.

Ecarma considers himself a minority coach after his father immigrated to Kentucky from the Philippines as a child.

The university concluded through an independent investigation that Ecarma allegedly pressured athletes to play through injuries, forced them to play outdoors in near-freezing temperatures along with making discriminatory jokes.

Ecarma denied the university’s findings through a statement provided by his attorney Marc Murphy. 

“After this lengthy inquiry – conducted by University personnel – not independently as has been written – cause for my termination was obviously not found. That doesn’t surprise me because there is no cause. There could not have been. The present administration and Athletic Director obviously wanted a new tennis coach, for reasons that were never explained to me.”

Regardless, Ecarma is no longer the coach even though he will be paid his base salary of $150,000 by the school through the duration of his contract which expires in 2023. 

“Coach Ecarma’s behavior made the student athletes and employees fearful of retaliation if they reported their concerns to him,” the report stated.

Who really knows the extent of how much Ecarma mistreated his athletes. Playing outside in cold temperatures or playing while not quite feeling 100 percent builds resiliency, and some old-school coaches will tell you today’s athletes are softer than ones they may have coached in previous generations. 

All of that may be worth an initial warning, but off-the-cuff discriminatory remarks are certainly a fireable offense, if Ecarma actually said them.

When asked whether he made the offensive comments Ecarma replied, “I don’t recall that.”

“I’m deeply disappointed by the decision,” Ecarma wrote. “I’ve been a Louisville Cardinal my entire entire adult life, as a ball boy, player, and for nearly 30 years as the Head Coach. My teams have been successful and my record, including my personnel file, has been spotless.”