Former Eastern Michigan football coach Ron English expressed regret in an interview with The Associated Press for using “inappropriate language,” that included a homophobic slur during a film session with defensive backs last month.
“As a man who has coached 21 years, obviously, on this occasion and particular meeting, I lost my poise, got upset and used language that was inappropriate, particularly as it pertains to homosexual slurs. I regret that,” English told the AP in a telephone interview on Saturday, hours after the school released a statement explaining why he was fired the previous day. “I apologize to the university for putting it in this position and tarnishing its reputation. I look forward to continuing a career that has been marked by molding men of integrity, passion, and intensity for 21 years.”
Eastern Michigan athletic director Heather Lyke, in a statement released by the school Saturday, said she received audio of English using “wholly inappropriate language” while addressing the Eagles.
“We hold our coaches and staff to high standards of professionalism and conduct and there is no place, particularly in a student environment, where this language is appropriate,” Lyke said. “The statements made by Coach English are absolutely unacceptable. My decision to make a change in leadership of our football program was the culmination of a lot of factors including the comprehensive review of our program, the competitive performance and this tape.”
English was fired Friday with a 1-8 record this season and an 11-46 mark over five years at the Mid-American Conference program. When the school made its decision, Lyke only said it was necessary to make a change in leadership of the football program.
With interim Stan Parrish, the Eagles beat Western Michigan 35-32 in overtime for their second win of the season at home with 2,177 people in attendance in Ypsilanti, Mich.
“Our primary interest is in the well-being and success of our student-athletes and this will continue to be our priority in every decision we make and every action we take,” Lyke said in her statement Saturday. “My focus moving forward is on the quality of our student-athletes’ experience as well as the search process for the next leader of our football program.
Eastern Michigan was struck by tragedy on Oct. 18 when Demarius Reed, a receiver from Chicago, was found fatally shot at an apartment building.
English was hired before the 2009 season, and the former Michigan defensive coordinator went 2-22 in his first two years with the Eagles. Eastern Michigan was 6-6 in 2011, falling one win short of bowl eligibility because two of its victories were against Football Championship Subdivision teams. After snapping a streak of 15 straight losing seasons, the Eagles were 2-10 last year and lost eight in a row this season before beating the Broncos.
During the skid, English said he lost his poise and got upset while reviewing film with the team’s defensive backs.
“I’ve never been around a place where so many good guys go bad,” English is heard saying during the address the school’s athletic director acquired. “It’s bad. It’s as bad as I’ve ever been around.”