Florida State's Mike Norvell apologized Thursday after a star player accused the coach of lying about personally connecting with each player to discuss the police killing of George Floyd and ensuing protests against racial injustice.
Defensive tackle Marvin Wilson said Wednesday night on Twitter that he and his teammates were “outraged” by Norvell's characterization of the contact the white, first-year coach had with the players. Wilson, who is black, went back to social media on Thursday to say the matter was settled.
“Took a stand we got what we wanted & we are moving forward,” Wilson wrote on Instagram. He also posted a nearly four-minute video detailing how the team plans to register to vote and raise funds for organizations that help send young black people to college and aid poor children in the Tallahassee area.
Norvell released a statement saying it was a mistake to say he had connected with every player individually.
“Particularly at this time, words are important, and I’m sorry,” Norvell said.
Florida State athletic director David Coburn, making a scheduled appearance on a call with the school's Board of Trustees earlier Thursday, told the board about the meeting involving the Seminoles players and Norvell, who has been in the job for about six months.
“I’m told the dialogue was open and very candid and that it went well. I believe we are moving on there,” Coburn told the board.
“I also want to tell you about a Zoom conversation I had last night with about 75 student-athletes to discuss Mr. Floyd’s death and other similar incidents here in Tallahassee and across the country. It was interesting, it was educational and emotional.”
Norvell, 38, was hired away from Memphis in December to replace Willie Taggart, who had been fired after less than two full seasons as Seminoles coach. Norvell is the fourth coach Wilson has played for during his career at Florida State, including Jimbo Fisher, now with Texas A&M, and interim head coach and current FSU assistant Odell Haggins.
The Athletic reported on Tuesday that Norvell said: " I went back and forth individually with every player this weekend," when asked what he was doing to connect with players after the death of Floyd, a black handcuffed man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police, which sparked nationwide protests.
Wilson said on Twitter that was a “lie” because all players had received was a “generated text that was sent to everyone.” Wilson added he and his teammates would not be working out until further notice.
In his Thursday post, Wilson wrote that he appreciated Norvell for encouraging him to “use his platform and speak for what me and teammates believe in.”
“Yesterday I took a stand that was not only for me or FSU football. Not even for athletes in general. It's for Big George Floyd. Black people in general for our oppression that we've been going through for over 400 years,” Wilson said in the video. “I want to say shoutout to Colin Kaepernick for really being the first athlete I ever saw to really take a stand for something that he believed in.”
Norvell said he was grateful for the opportunity to speak with the team.
“We will continue to communicate and work together to be part of the solution, making our world a better place for ALL,” Norvell said.