STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — Head Coach, James Franklin, opened his press conference Tuesday with a statement about the letter that was sent to Jonathan Sutherland criticizing his dreadlocks.
Antonio Shelton of the football team tweeted a picture Monday night of a letter his teammate received from an alum who says his teammate has ”awful hair”.
“My wife and I are proud ‘older’ graduates of Penn State,” the letter begins. “We follow all Penn State sports; football, wrestling, volleyball, gymnastics, basketball.”
The letter goes on to say: “Though the athletes of today are certainly superior to those in my days, we miss the clean cut young men and women from those days.”
“Watching the Idaho game on TV we couldn’t help but notice your – well – awful hair,” the letter says. “Surely there must be mirrors in the locker room! Don’t you have parents or girlfriend who’ve told you those shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractive.”
The University responded back with a tweet that said they condemn this message or any intolerance.
“While we don’t know the source of this letter or the authenticity, obviously its content does not align with our values,” Penn State said in a tweet. “We strongly condemn this message or any message of intolerance.”
We were able to reach Dave Petersen, the man whose name is on the letter, and he told us “no comment.”
Petersen told the Tribune-Democrat that making a racist statement “was not the intent at all. I would like to see the coaches get the guys cleaned up and not looking like Florida State and Miami guys.”
Petersen also told the Tribune-Democrat that his letter “wasn’t threatening or anything. I was just disgruntled about some of the hairdos that we’re seeing. You think of Penn State as a bunch of clean-cut guys. And you do see so many who are clean cut. But that tattoos and the hair, there are a lot of guys with hair coming down their backs and it just looks awful. And it’s the same for the NFL and NBA too.”
Penn State Athletic Director, Sandy Barbour tweeted out a statement as well.
“I stand with our Penn State student athletes and appreciate how they represent PSU in competition, in the classroom and in the community,” the tweet says. “Their dress, tattoos, or hairstyle has no impact on my support, nor does their gender, skin color, sexuality or religion!”
Jonathan Sutherland also tweeted a response to the letter.