ALBION, Mich. (WOOD) — Players on the Albion College men’s basketball team want head coach Jody May to be publicly suspended and are demanding an apology from administrators after May allegedly used a racial slur in practice on Dec. 28.

A player who wants to remain anonymous said May kicked a Black player out of practice for saying, “Give me that (expletive), (N-word)” to another Black teammate during a drill.

According to a player, when his teammates confronted May, who is white, about kicking the player out, May said “he needed to be taught a lesson because I had to give him a technical foul for saying, ‘Give me that (expletive), (N-word).'”

“I really didn’t feel comfortable practicing anymore,” a player said. “I was in disbelief that he could say those words to me as a Black male.”

Throughout practice, May proceeded to give his reasoning again and players say he repeated the slur four times.

Later that evening, May apologized after a team dinner, but a player said that “his apology seemed scripted and not genuine at all.”

Assistant coach Nate Frisbie coached the team for three games following the alleged incident while May served an unofficial suspension.

Before Albion’s Wednesday night game against Calvin University, the team met with Interim President Joe Calvaruso and Dean ​Leroy Wright to discuss May’s actions. A player said the administrators used the phrase, “You need to rip off the band-aid,” and felt they were pressured to “heal faster.”

Players communicated that they wanted time and space away from May, but were told he would resume his coaching duties on Jan. 9 and “there was nothing we could do about it. They didn’t really listen to us.”

May was on the bench for Saturday’s Jan. 7 game against Trine University, where there was a large alumni presence. Prior to the game, Albion honored Hall of Fame coach Mike Turner, who is Albion’s winningest head coach. There was a ceremony prior to the game during which the floor of Kresge Gymnasium was named in his honor. According to players, the university said if May was not on the sidelines for Saturday’s game, it would “spark questions we’re not ready to answer.”

Ten of the 16 varsity players decided to not participate in Saturday’s game in protest of May’s actions and how the college responded to the situation.

“We felt it was only right to sit out to bring attention to the situation. We felt like they were trying to silence us,” a player said.

“The guys that did play support us. They just wanted to play basketball,” a player said. “If nobody would have played, our president was planning on canceling our season.”

A player added, “I genuinely don’t think (May) is a racist coach.”

Calvaruso, Albion’s interim president, sent a letter to the campus community Sunday evening in which he said that May was aiming for a “teachable moment” when he removed the player who first used the slur from practice, but that May chose “the wrong way to go about it” and made a “serious mistake.”

Calvaruso said steps had been taken to address the situation, including May apologizing to his team and sitting out games. May was also sent to cultural sensitivity training.

The interim president said that administrators “have heard and recognize the hurtful impact the Coach’s words had on our players.” He added that the school respects the players who chose to sit out Saturday.

The team said it is disappointed with the college’s handling of the incident.

“May has torn us down as people and his choice of words showed a lack of respect toward the majority of his team. We are still in shock from his degrading and abusive actions and feel we cannot fully repair our personal and athletic relationships with coach May,” a player said.

The full letter from Calvaruso:

“As some of you may be aware, we have been addressing an issue involving the men’s basketball team. This issue stemmed from a practice session in which Coach May addressed an issue with a student-athlete for using a racial epithet. When players questioned the coach about this matter during and after practice, Coach May repeated what the student had said as he explained the measures taken.

“While Coach May was aiming to use this as a teachable moment, it was the wrong way to go about it. It was a serious mistake on his part. His language was inconsistent with our values as a College and the values of anyone who calls themselves a Briton.

“As a College, we have investigated this incident and taken steps to address it. The Coach has apologized to the team for the hurtful impact his words have caused. He has sat out several games. He will continue to be involved in cultural sensitivity training.

“Trustee Michael Williams offered advice to me and Dean Wright based on his interactions with the basketball team and how we, as a College, can move forward together. We have heard and recognize the hurtful impact the Coach’s words had on our players. We respect the decision of those student-athletes who decided to sit out Saturday’s game honoring Coach Turner. We appreciate Trustee Williams, an Albion alumnus who is a member of the College’s Hall of Fame in basketball, for his willingness to continue these conversations as we move through the healing process.

“We strive to foster an environment where our students, faculty and staff are supported. These are difficult but necessary conversations. We hope to continue the healing process through ongoing dialogue with these student-athletes.”

Interim President Joe Calvaruso