UPDATED 10/12, 6:57 p.m. ET: Before tonight's Penn State vs. Iowa game on Saturday, Lamont Wade was seen warming up in a t-shirt that read "Chains, tattoos, dreads & WE ARE." The shirts worn by some players were later removed by staff.
UPDATED 10/8, 7:30 p.m. ET: Penn State head coach James Franklin defended safety Jonathan Sutherland after the player was sent a racist letter criticizing his hair.
"PSU football brings people together," he said in a press conference. This is my football. This is the game that I love and my players, that I love and will defend like sons."
He went on to say that Sutherland is a leader among the PSU team and that he believes him to be an exemplar of the team's ethos.
"[Sutherland] is one of the most respected players in our program," Franklin said. "He's the ultimate example of what our program is all about."
Take a look at Franklin's full statement below.
See original story from 10/07/2019 below.
Dave Petersen is standing by the letter he wrote to Penn State safety Jonathan Sutherland, in which he criticized his dreadlocks.
“I would just like to see the coaches get the guys cleaned up and not looking like Florida State and Miami guys," Petersen told the Tribune-Democrat. He said he didn’t intend for his letter to have racist undertones.
“It wasn’t threatening or anything," Petersen explained. "I was just disgruntled about some of the hairdos that we’re seeing."
"You think of Penn State as a bunch of clean-cut guys," Petersen added. "And you do see so many who are clean cut. But the tattoos and the hair—there are a lot of guys with hair coming down their backs and it just looks awful. And it’s the same for the NFL and NBA, too.”
Penn State tweeted about the letter on Monday evening.
On Tuesday, Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour tweeted her solidarity with the school's student athletes.
Despite Petersen's claims that he didn't intend his letter to be interpreted as racist, his poor choice of words suggested otherwise, and were rightfully called out as such online.
See original story below.
Penn State defensive lineman Antonio Shelton posted a screenshot of the letter that an unnamed teammate received from an alumnus following the Nittany Lions' game against Pittsburgh last month.
The letter, which was signed by someone named Dave Petersen, criticizes the Penn State player’s "awful hair," calling his shoulder-length dreadlocks "disgusting" and "certainly not attractive." Petersen, who refers to himself and his wife as "proud 'older' graduates," went on to ask if this person has a girlfriend or parents who could've made him aware of how he looked.
After admittedly pining for "the clean cut young men and women" from years past earlier in the letter, Petersen expresses a desire to "welcome the reappearance of dress codes for athletes" since these players are representing Penn State alumni like himself.
Petersen delivers a backhanded compliment by implying that this person will one day make it to the NFL, but that remark was overshadowed by the confession that he no longer watches those games because their expression of individuality doesn't align with his own personal beliefs.
Fellow Nittany Lions player C.J. Holmes issued a response on Twitter condemning Petersen's "extremely inappropriate" letter.
my teammate got this in the mail today, and tbh Im at a lost for words.. I also have locs, Tats, and NFL dreams too, these messages can not be tolerated, this was extremely inappropriate, racially biased, and selfish to feel like you even have a right to send this message #WeAre pic.twitter.com/DPTp9Km9yt— ㅤ (@CjHo1mes) October 7, 2019