Former UMass football coaching staff fired from his current job at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga after a derogatory social media post was discovered aimed at the voting rights activist by Georgia Stacey Abrams.
Chris Malone, who trained the Minutemen’s tight ends and offensive line from 2001 to 2003, posted a tweet Tuesday night mocking Abrams’ weight and accusing him of “cheating in an election” in the second round of the Senate from Georgia this week.
Malone was working as an assistant offensive line coach at Chattanooga and deleted the posts as well as his account following the immediate reaction. However, screenshots quickly began to circulate on social media. On Thursday morning, the school announced that it was removing him from his post in the program and that it had since deleted his page on the UT Chattanooga athletics website.
Abrams, a former gubernatorial candidate, has been credited as an important leader in changing political tides in the state of Georgia, primarily playing a key role in the state’s shift to blue during the presidential election of 2020. She is also seen as a major driving force in Tuesday’s second round of Senate elections, which led Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to defeat incumbent Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
The election results helped shape the outlook for US politics, creating a 50-50 divide in the Senate. Since Democrats control the deciding Senate vote (held by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris), the party will soon gain a majority.
After news of Malone’s comments started to spread, the school announced Thursday that the coach will no longer be on the program.
Here are the full statements from the head football coach and the school’s athletic director:
Mocs coach Rusty Wright: “Our football program has a clear set of standards. These standards include respect for others. It’s a message our players hear every day. It is a standard on which I will not give up. What was posted on social media by a member of my team is unacceptable and is not part of who I represent or what Chattanooga Football stands for. Life is bigger than football and as leaders of young men we must lead by example above all. However, with immediate effect, this person is no longer on my staff.
Sporting Director Mark Wharton: “Last night a totally inappropriate social media post by a member of our football team came to my attention. The whole message was appalling. The sentiments in this post do not represent the values of our football program, our athletics department or our university. However, with immediate effect, this person is no longer part of the program.
Malone played college football at Virginia Tech before spending two seasons there as a graduate assistant. In 2001, he took his first full coaching position with the Minutemen, under the direction of head coach Mark Whipple. Malone coached tight ends in his first season with the team before coaching the offensive line in 2002 and 2003.
Malone too coached at the Virginia Military Institute, James Madison, Old Dominion and Virginia State before being hired by Chattanooga in 2019.