Racial slurs used against Vanderbilt baseball parents during first game of College World Series finals

According to onsite ESPN reporter Clinton Yates, the perpetrators were Mississippi State fans.

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TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, as photographed on June 28, 2021. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Rachael Perrotta, News Editor

Vanderbilt baseball parents were called racial slurs during Game 1 of the Men’s College World Series (CWS) finals on Monday, June 28, per onsite ESPN reporter Clinton Yates. He clarified in a June 29 interview on The Paul Finebaum Show the comments were made by Mississippi State fans.

screenshot of tweet from Yates saying: "DEVELOPING: Vandy parents at the stadium tonight were subjected to racial slurs during the game and no one was hurt but the incident was obviously unacceptable and inappropriate."
Screenshot of Yates’s tweet taken on June 30, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Rachael Perrotta) (Rachael Perrotta)

Yates also posted at 3:19 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, June 29 stating that the affected parties did not choose to pursue the matter further with the authorities.

Vanderbilt Athletic Director Candice Storey Lee tweeted about the incident at 9:03 a.m. CDT on June 29, voicing her support for the Vanderbilt parents who experienced hostility during Game 1.

“I am deeply troubled that some of our student-athlete parents were subjected to racist slurs during last night’s game,” Lee’s tweet read. “This is absolutely unacceptable and disgraceful behavior, and such hateful language has no place anywhere in our society.”

Vanderbilt head baseball coach Tim Corbin similarly found the incident “very concerning.” He refrained from speaking in-depth about the altercation when asked about it during a post-game press conference on June 29.

“It’s bad behavior, poor behavior,” Corbin said. “Tough to fathom that that happens.” 

In the interview with Finebaum, Yates stated that he visited the section in which the incident occurred before and during the game. He said that the atmosphere and the “vitriol” he witnessed lent themselves to an escalation.

“I went down before the game and you could tell, the environment was hostile,” Yates said. “As a Black person in America, I looked at that and was like, this is not an environment that’s going to end well…I know a dangerous and/or hectic situation when I see one, and that was certainly one.”

Yates said police officers moved fans to different areas of the stands due to their involvement in the altercation. He also stated that a pedestrian told him that the authorities removed some fans from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha after saying racial slurs.

“It got to the level of what we’ll just call, the word you’re not supposed to say,” Yates said. “That happened on multiple occasions when, finally, they had to decide that police needed to get involved.”

Meghan Durham, associate director of communications for the NCAA, and Kristyna Engdahl, director of communications for the Omaha Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA), both stated that stadium security would be increased for future games and denounced the use of derogatory language.

“Racist and abusive language has no place in college sports and is not tolerated at NCAA championships, including the Men’s College World Series,” Durham said on Tuesday afternoon to WKRN News 2. “The NCAA is working with our partners at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha to gather more information about what occurred at last night’s game and put additional security measures in place. Any parties responsible for unacceptable actions during the games will be removed by stadium security.”

Yates added that Vanderbilt is in contact with the NCAA regarding the incident in an effort to preserve safety for all CWS spectators. 

“This is a safety matter for people who are there trying to root for their children about amateur baseball,” Yates said. “When that intimacy is breached in a bad face manner…it’s a real letdown.”

Yates also said that members of the Vanderbilt community, including fans and parents, have previously been subject to “harsher” incidents “with that word.” 

“This is not new; this is part of the deal on a certain level,” Yates said.

On the June 29 episode of The Paul Finebaum Show, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey stated that he had been in contact with Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen, Lee and the NCAA earlier that day about the altercation. He claimed that he was first notified about the incident by Lee on the morning of June 29.

“What has been identified is unacceptable behavior,” Sankey said. “We have made that clear to our leadership.”

Cohen released a statement on Twitter at 2:22 p.m. CDT on June 29 in solidarity with Lee and Vanderbilt’s outrage over the incident. He also echoed Sankey in describing how it undermined the spirit of the CWS.

“We join Vanderbilt in declaring such behavior unacceptable and in direct conflict of the values of both institutions and our fan bases,” the tweet read. “Highly inappropriate events must neither be tolerated nor allowed to detract from the on-the-field accomplishments of the student-athletes and their teams who have earned the right to participate on this national stage.”