This post was updated Feb. 28 at 8:27 p.m.
UCLA Athletics dismissed former cross country and track student-athlete Chris Weiland on Feb. 22 after video and text messages emerged Feb. 21 of the senior using racist, homophobic and sexist language.
UCLA track and field/cross country coach Avery Anderson issued a statement Feb. 22 condemning Weiland’s actions and announcing the dismissal.
“Chris Weiland has been dismissed as a member of the cross country and track and field teams. When first learning of this a few months ago, I was disgusted and immediately suspended him indefinitely from the team,” Anderson’s statement said. “Even in my disgust, as a coach, my intentions are always to lead and educate and make the change happen that I want to see in this world. I can talk about changing the world, or I can put in the work to do so. And that is what I have done over the last few months with this individual. In January, I decided to reinstate him to the team. However, after team members and the athletic community expressed concern, it became clear that his continued involvement with the team is incompatible with the culture of mutual support and respect we’re fostering. I now realize that the decision to reinstate him was not the right decision, and that the action today is best for the well-being of our team.”
Weiland released a statement on his public Instagram account Sunday apologizing for the comments.
“I wanted to publicly address the blatant racial, homophobic, and sexist slurs and remarks that I used two years ago,” Weiland’s statement read. “What I said was inexcusable and simply put – racist and homophobic. It’s not who I want to be, what I want to stand for and I am actively working to make myself better. I apologize to the black & LGBTQ+ communities for the words that I used and the pain that I have caused.”
The dismissal came after the UCLA Black Student-Athlete Alliance released a statement on its Instagram on the night of Feb. 22 condemning UCLA Athletics’ inaction toward the incidents, which was reposted by the Afrikan Student Union at UCLA Instagram account and other campus organizations.
“The racist actions that took place by a member of the cross country team are unacceptable and disrespectful, and we at BSAA refuse to accept the actions of that athlete, as well as the lack of action to address the issue by the coaches, staff, and administration,” the statement said. “We do not feel safe with this person on campus, and we demand UCLA athletics take action immediately and remove this student from the team.”
Weiland most recently competed for UCLA on Friday as the team raced at the Dave Murray Invitational in Tucson.
Both the video and text messages were originally posted by @ucla_is_racist on Instagram.
Weiland’s personal Instagram account – previously tagged in a UCLA cross country Instagram post as recently as Feb. 5 – was deactivated until Sunday. A post on @uclaxc with Weiland’s account previously tagged has had its commenting turned off.
Prior to the release of UCLA Athletics’ statement, junior track and field sprinter Kenroy Higgins II, a teammate of Weiland, tweeted Feb. 22 the senior was “no longer a UCLA athlete” in response to tweets about Weiland’s actions.
Several student-athletes demanded action by UCLA Athletics on Feb. 21 after BSAA released its statement.
Higgins referenced Anderson, the only Black head coach at UCLA, in a comment on BSAA’s post, that claims the university does not care about him as a Black student-athlete.
“They make our only black head coach feel like he gotta walk on thin ice up here,” the comment also said.
Junior gymnast Margzetta Frazier tagged multiple official UCLA Athletics accounts in a comment on BSAA’s Instagram post, and women’s basketball senior forward Lauryn Miller shared her desire for UCLA Athletics to act on her Instagram story.
“Time to stop kicking things under the rug,” Miller said in the story, adding she found the text messages and videos “inexcusable.”
Former women’s soccer defender Kaiya McCullough also tweeted support for BSAA’s statement Feb. 21 and expressed disapproval for UCLA Athletics’ inaction.
“As a Black student-athlete alumni that has stood diligently against racism and bigotry in all forms, I am APPALLED that this behavior is not only being excused, but covered up by your departments,” the tweet said. “To allow Chris Weiland to continue to participate in competition and maintain his enrollment at @UCLA is a stark contrast to the values that UCLA and your department claim to uphold.”