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MSU hockey player details on-ice racial slurs; Big Ten declines to discipline

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Michigan State senior forward Jagger Joshua

A Michigan State hockey player said he was the target of a racial slur multiple times during a game against Ohio State at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing earlier this month.

Jagger Joshua, a Black forward and senior from Dearborn, took to social media Monday night, detailing the incident and expressing frustration that Ohio State and the Big Ten have failed to levy any punishment.

"Acts of racism do not belong in hockey, as they can discourage African Americans and minorities like myself from playing and loving the game," Joshua wrote on Twitter. "Inaction in the face of racist comments and actions allow these behaviors to continue.

"The inaction has left me feeling confused and pessimistic about the movement of diversity within hockey culture," Joshua continued. "The ignorance of racism does not belong in our game. And I feel that I need to make people aware that this incident occurred, because without acknowledgement, the problem gets worse."

In his four-paragraph social-media post, Joshua said an Ohio State player called him a racial slur multiple times, and within earshot of a game official, who gave the player a game misconduct penalty. A review of the box score from that game, a 4-3 Michigan State victory, shows one 10-minute game misconduct penalty.

Joshua said the Big Ten investigated the incident, but the conference hasn't acted, he said.

The Big Ten, in response to an inquiry from The News, said in a statement Monday night that it "collected and evaluated" information from the Big Ten officiating crew, Ohio State and Michigan State, as well as available video footage. The Big Ten said it supported the Big Ten crew's decision to issue the penalty.

"Due to the absence of indisputable evidence presented to the conference, the conference has not imposed further disciplinary action," the Big Ten said in a statement.

"The Big Ten Conference is committed to providing our student-athletes inclusive environments free from acts of harassment or discrimination in any form.

"The safety and well-being of our campus communities remains our top priority.

Ohio State also issued a statement, in response to a request for comment from The News.

"The Ohio State department of athletics and the men’s hockey program worked collaboratively with the Big Ten Conference to come to a resolution in response to the allegation of misconduct toward the Big Ten sportsmanship policy," Ohio State's athletic department said in a statement.

"Ohio State is focused on providing an inclusive and supportive environment for all. The department is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all. Our Buckeye Inclusion committee has done an outstanding job with providing education and awareness across our department, both for students and staff.  We are committed to recognizing our remarkable diversity and utilizing our core values to ensure everyone attending or participating in an athletic event feels safe and welcome."

It's unclear if any Ohio State player, including the player who received the game misconduct penalty, received any punishment from the university. The player who received the game misconduct penalty (whom Joshua chose not to publicly name) played in Ohio State's two games since the MSU game.

Joshua posted his Twitter statement under the Twitter header of, "Acts of racism do not belong in hockey."

"I would like to thank my teammates, coaches, and staff at Michigan State," Joshua wrote. "I am incredibly thankful for their support since this incident and as I have navigated this process."

Michigan State athletics director Alan Haller and head hockey coach Adam Nightingale also issued statements on Twitter on Monday night.

"Michigan State athletics stands with Jagger Joshua, and commends him for having the courage to speak up against racial injustice," Haller wrote in his Twitter post. "As a department, we are committed to providing opportunities for all student-athletes to compete in a space free from discrimination, racism or hate."

Wrote Nightingale, also on Twitter: "At Michigan State, we are committed to a safe and welcoming space for our student-athletes. It is important to me that all student-athletes feel comfortable and supported in our locker room and in our program. I am proud to have Jagger Joshua on our team."

This is Joshua's fourth season playing at Michigan State, and he's fifth on the team in points with six goals and five assists. He graduated from Edsel Ford High School, and brother Dakota previously played at Ohio State.

Michigan State is 9-4-1 and ranked 16th in the nation in Nightingale's first season as head coach. The Spartans play a two-game series at Miami (Ohio) on Friday and Saturday.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984