OU women's basketball: Former Sooners accuse Coale of racial insensitivity
NORMAN — After OU’s football team marched together from their locker room to the campus’ South Oval, where Sooners coach Lincoln Riley delivered a speech before a moment of silence and a prayer before marching back, some former OU women’s basketball players relayed a very different experience.
In response to a photo of Riley speaking against police violence against the Black community, former Sooners women’s basketball guard Gioya Carter tweeted that she wished her coach at OU — Sherri Coale — would have responded like Riley.
“Instead, my four years there was filled with comments like, ‘You guys act like it happened to you. If y’all’s long braids hits one of my players in the face,’ as if the people in braids weren’t her players.”
Carter, a former Carl Albert High School standout, played for the Sooners from 2013-17.
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Several other former players relayed negative experiences as well.
Another former player, Jacqueline Jeffcoat, tweeted that Coale had made racist comments during Jeffcoat’s time with the Sooners.
“She hit me with several racist comments after we went to Monticello in Virginia … Thomas Jefferson’s plantation,” Jeffcoat posted in response to Carter’s initial comment. “How insensitive. Told me to take down a post bc (because) I felt strongly about it. I’m with you.”
Jeffcoat signed with the Sooners out of high school and played two seasons there, 2010-12, before transferring to Texas State.
Coale did not return a call for comment.
T’Ona Edwards, who played for the Sooners during the same period as Carter, tweeted that Coale had to be convinced by current players to tweet about Black Lives Matter in the wake of the George Floyd killing and other incidents earlier this year.
On June 4, Coale tweeted the hashtag #blacklivesmatter in saying she would be at the March for George Floyd two days later in Norman.
Coale sent out two other tweets in early June in support of racial justice.
“Social media is not my deal, admittedly. However this is the outlet that serves out student-athletes best, so I will use it to be clear: our collective family, coaches and players are vehemently opposed to police brutality and racial injustice in all its forms,” Coale tweeted, in part. “We are fighting for change.”
Ijeoma Odimgbe, who played for Coale and the Sooners from 2015-19, also backed up Carter’s reaction.
“She never speaks anything but facts,” Odimgbe tweeted in response to Carter’s initial post. In another tweet, Odimgbe criticized some who were openly surprised by Carter’s post.
“Of course you’re ‘shocked’ and all this is apparently ‘news to you’ (because) you were never a victim to it,” Odimgbe tweeted.
Coale has coached the Sooners since 1996, winning 501 games and three Final Four appearances.
The Sooners had a streak of 19 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances snapped in 2019 and were on track to miss the tournament again in 2020 before the postseason was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coale’s contract was recently extended through 2024.