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USF Assistant Basketball Coach's Contract Not Renewed Over Inappropriate Comments

 USF men's basketball associate head coach Tom Herrion is reportedly the subject of an independent investigation for allegedly making 'racially charged' comments.
USF men's basketball associate head coach Tom Herrion is reportedly the subject of an independent investigation for allegedly making 'racially charged' comments.

University of South Florida officials have announced that a men's basketball coach who was accused of making inappropriate comments to players will not return to the team.

Associate head coach Tom Herrion had been placed on administrative leave in March while he was being investigated for making what was termed at that time as "racially charged" comments.

In a statement released Tuesday, USF Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly said Herrion's contract is not being renewed and he is no longer with the program.

An outside law firm, Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC of Birmingham, Ala., conducted an independent review of the men's basketball program and interviewed 17 student-athletes, coaches, and current and former staff.

The firm's report said Herrion made four alleged racially insensitive comments. They found that three of the four comments were substantiated, with two violating USF's Misconduct Policy.

However, they also said none of the comments violated USF's Diversity and Equal Opportunity Policy.

“It is highly disappointing that the review confirmed isolated actions involving Coach Herrion’s interactions with student-athletes that are simply unacceptable,” Kelly said in the statement.

The review found that head coach Brian Gregory only became aware of one of the allegations, the day after it occurred, and informed administrators that day.

In addition, the review found the basketball program "does not have a hostile or problematic culture as it relates to the issue of race." It went on to say that Gregory and his staff "have been proactive in addressing racial issues," with a renewed focus on the issue after the nationwide racial unrest in 2020.

While at least nine players on the team — many of them Black — entered the NCAA transfer portal following the Bulls' 2020-2021 season, the review said that those moves were not related to the allegations against Herrion or the culture of the program.

“I was pleased to see the report’s findings that head coach Brian Gregory and our administration are, and have been, operating in accordance with the University of South Florida’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and that our processes for ensuring those commitments are upheld,” Kelly said.

“Overall, the review reaffirms my belief in Coach Gregory’s leadership of our program. Moving forward, our entire athletic department will continue to be dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment that allows every student-athlete to thrive.”

Herrion joined USF with Gregory in 2017. He had previously served as head coach at the College of Charleston from 2002-2006 and Marshall from 2010-2014.

Gregory is 48-66 with one postseason appearance — a College Basketball Invitational title in 2019 — in his four years at USF.

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Mark Schreiner has been the producer and reporter for "University Beat" on WUSF 89.7 FM since 2001 and on WUSF TV from 2007-2017.