Utah has suspended defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley and launched an external investigation concerning a 2013 text message he sent that included a racial slur, Utes athletics director Mark Harlan announced Friday on social media.
Harlan said that he was made aware of the text message Wednesday and that he had spoken to Scalley, who "is very contrite and acknowledged that the text was sent and that it did include a derogatory and painful word."
"In 2013 I made a terrible mistake," Scalley said in a statement released by the school. "I used a racial slur in a text message. This language is offensive and hurtful to not only the African-American community, but to all. Immediately after sending it, I apologized to the recipient and his family. I am also heartbroken over the potential breach of trust with my fellow coaches, and with the young men in our program, both past and present."
Harlan said that he consulted with Utah president Ruth Watkins and that an outside law firm will conduct a review to "seek further details and determine whether this was an isolated incident."
"The use of any form of racist language is not only antithetical to our policies and our values, but it is an affront to all of us, especially our African-American community members," Harlan said in the statement. "While the review of this matter is being conducted, I have placed Morgan on suspension effectively immediately."
Former Utah cornerback Ryan Lacy said later Friday on Twitter that Scalley directed a racial slur at him.
I, too, was called a racial slur (N-word) by this man in 2008, confronted him my senior year 2013. Held onto it 5 years and Got a half ass apology, more on terms of an excuse. He is a great coach, but needs to be a better Man. Truth hurts. God bless— Ryan Lacy (@SpotlightLacy) June 6, 2020
Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said he was "disappointed and shocked" to learn about the text message.
"I take very seriously the hurt, pain and anger felt by African-Americans, and the power of words to inflict or deepen that pain," Whittingham said in the statement. "Although this incident is inconsistent with the character and conduct of the person I have known and worked closely with for more than two decades, Morgan's use of racist language is a very serious matter and I am supportive of the suspension while a more thorough outside review is conducted."
Scalley, a former All-American safety for the Utes, has worked the previous 12 seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, including the past four as defensive coordinator. He also coaches safeties and served as the program's recruiting coordinator from 2009 to '15.
He was a finalist for the Broyles Award, which honors the top assistant coach in college football, in 2019, after the Utes ranked second in the FBS in total defense, giving up only 269.2 yards per game, and sixth in scoring defense, with 15 points per game.
Scalley played for the Utes from 2001 to '04 and was the 2004 Mountain West co-Defensive Player of the Year after he helped lead Utah to a 12-0 record and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Pittsburgh. The Utes were the first non-BCS team to play in a BCS bowl game.