By Chadd Cripe
SALT LAKE CITY — Hawaii football coach Greg McMackin said Thursday at the WAC media football preview that Notre Dame did “this little faggot dance” at a banquet the night before last year’s Hawaii Bowl. Click here to hear what McMackin said. (WARNING, EXPLICIT LANGUAGE)
McMackin used the term “faggot” three times while explaining why Notre Dame was so fired up to play Hawaii in the game, which the Fighting Irish won 49-21.
McMackin responded to the Notre Dame clapping tradition by having his players do the ha’a, an intense Polynesian dance and chant the Warriors do before games.
McMackin said Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis got up at the banquet and told the crowd, “We do something special at Notre Dame.”
“And they get up and they do this little cheer, like this,” McMackin said Thursday, doing a rhythmic clap. “You know, this little faggot dance.”
Once McMackin saw Notre Dame’s team demonstration, he gave his players the signal — the shaka — to do their ha’a.
That's what inspired Notre Dame, the coach said.
“I screwed up. And I’ll never do this again,” he said of having his players do the dance. “… It was the best (ha’a) I’ve ever seen. I mean, they’re on their chairs, they have beads on, they’re ripping their beads off. I mean, it was a little scary. I think Notre Dame watched that and said, ‘We better have ourselves ready,’ because they really played a good game.”
McMackin made his comments in front of about a dozen reporters, most with voice recorders, and a WAC video camera. He then tried to convince reporters not to write about his comments.
Last year, the first-year coach let slip the name of a committed recruit whom he was not allowed to talk about. He immediately realized his mistake and the reporters covering the event agreed to let that go.
“Just please … cover for me,” McMackin said Thursday. “Go ahead, say ‘faggot dance.’ No. Please cover for me on that, too — right Karl? I’ll deny it. Anything else?”
Karl referred to WAC commissioner Karl Benson, who was in the room when McMackin concluded his comments.
Moments later, McMackin returned and made a short, informal statement.
“I want to officially, officially apologize,” he said. “Please don’t write that statement I said as far as Notre Dame. The reason is, I don’t care about Notre Dame. But I’m not a — I don’t want to come out and have every homosexual ticked off at me. You know what I mean. Because I don’t have any problem with homosexuals. But I apologize for saying that and I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t run that word. If you said dance, that’s OK. But don’t use the bad term that I chose, please. Thank you.”
Two sports editors were in the room. A third was contacted by telephone. All agreed the comments should be reported.
The WAC recorded all coach press conferences for its Web site, but has no plans to post McMackin’s.
Once it was clear that McMackin’s comments would be reported, he made another statement to the media. Listen to it here.
“I would sincerely like to apologize for the inappropriate verbage, words that I used,” he said. “… I’m really ticked off at myself for saying that. I don’t have any prejudices and it really makes me mad that I even said that and I’m disappointed in myself. … What I was trying to do was be funny and it’s not funny and even more it isn’t funny to me. I was trying to make a joke and it was a bad choice of words and I really — I really, really — feel bad about it and I wanted to apologize. I’m going to apologize to my team. I’m going to apologize to the people in Hawaii.”
A Notre Dame spokesman said the school likely would not comment.
Benson said the WAC has rules regarding sportsmanship with penalties including suspension, but he plans to let the University of Hawaii deal with McMackin’s comments first.
“This will primarily be a University of Hawaii issue,” he said. “There is a sportsmanship piece in our code that may apply. At the appropriate time, we will address it.”
The University of Hawaii chancellor and athletics director have issued statements about Coach McMackin's remarks. Read their statements here.