Head Football Coach Mike Maynard has been reinstated following an investigation into his tweet, President Kuncl announced Tuesday. Maynard was placed on administrative leave a month ago after tweeting in response to a firework disruption of a peaceful protest in Riverside: “What kind of bomb? I want one of those.”
Kuncl reported “no evidence whatsoever of hostile or unjust intentions and no abuse of University systems or values.”
The decision was announced in a University-wide email yesterday, July 7. In deciding to reinstate Maynard, President Kuncl referred to a confidential report submitted by a fact-finding committee led by Diversity and Inclusion Officer Christopher Jones Jr.
It’s not known how exactly the committee came to its conclusion, but presumably it concurred that there was no evidence of ill-intent. Kuncl explained that the tweet was not about race or violence, contrary to the interpretations of some students.
That agrees with Maynard’s now-deleted apology, which described the tweet as “an unintentional reply [he] made (in error) to a friend.”
A petition demanding Maynard’s removal found the tweet to indicate a character flaw inconsistent with University values. According to President Kuncl, disregarding Maynard’s 32 years of service for this mistake would be wrong. Also meaningful is the counterpetition supporting Maynard, which has accumulated more than double the signatures of the first (3,330 as of Wednesday).
Because anyone can electronically sign the petitions, it is unknown the breakdown of football players, other Redlands students, alumni, and non-University community members who signed each petition. President Kuncl disclosed that he received a dozen letters calling for Maynard’s firing, yet they were not written by people who know the Coach well. He also received hundreds of messages supporting Maynard.
The outcome defers to free speech in a time when faculty and university employees across the West are increasingly scrutinized for statements made outside the context of their employment.
“The nine-word inadvertent tweet was not about race or athletics or violence,” President Kuncl said.
From the opposite perspective, Coach Maynard’s insensitivity makes him unqualified to lead the Bulldog football team. Some students and alumni, who assumed the tweet was intentionally public, argue that he is not fit to serve as a role model and leader in the University. Kuncl noted that the investigation sought to determine motivation and context.
Both on Twitter and below the counterpetition, students and alumni of color report Maynard’s commitment to promoting diversity, as well as his positive tenure as Head Coach. While there were also students describing bad experiences on Twitter, the available testimonies favor Maynard.
President Kuncl remarked on the importance of due process before life-altering decisions are made.
“While evaluating any specific personnel action, it is essential that we respect due process and fundamental fairness, and formulate a measured response in full consideration of the facts, motivation, and context of any incident; that is how each one of us would want and expect to be treated.”
Like every other aspect of University life affected by COVID-19, sports teams face significant challenges this fall. However, Bulldog football will experience one less change with Maynard’s reinstatement as Head Coach.