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Michigan State player says he faced racial slurs on the ice, inaction off it

Ten days after an Ohio State player was assessed a game misconduct for an alleged racial slur during a game versus Michigan State, the Spartans forward called for action by the Big Ten to combat

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Jagger Joshua, a senior forward for Michigan State, had six goals and five assists in the Spartans in the first 14 games of the 2022-23 season.
Contributed / Michigan State Athletics

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Jagger Joshua waited 10 days for others to do the right thing. By Monday, he was done waiting.

Joshua, a senior forward at Michigan State, took to social media on Nov. 21 with allegations that an Ohio State player directed multiple racial slurs toward Joshua during a Nov. 11 home game between the Spartans and Buckeyes.

In a post on Twitter, Joshua recounted an incident in the second period of a 4-3 Spartans win at Munn Ice Arena in which a Buckeyes player received a game misconduct after an on-ice official apparently overheard the racially motivated comments. The boxscore from that game lists Buckeyes senior forward Kamil Sadlocha as the only player assessed a game misconduct, but the summary did not disclose the nature of the penalty. The call came near the midway point of the game.

"It's a terrible situation to be a part of. But his goal is to put it out there so people can learn from it and hope it doesn't happen again," said Dakota Joshua, a Vancouver Canucks forward.

In his statement, Joshua said that the Big Ten investigated the incident, but no further action or disciplinary measures have been taken by the conference or Ohio State.

“The inaction has left me feeling confused and pessimistic about the movement of diversity within hockey culture,” Joshua wrote, in part. “The ignorance of racism does not belong in our game. And I feel that I need to make people aware that this incident occurred because without acknowledgement, the problem gets worse.”

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A section of the Big Ten rulebook states that an ethnic or racial slur directed toward an official, player or opposing team personnel would result in a game misconduct penalty.

In a statement from the Big Ten late Monday, the conference said that they collected and evaluated information from the officiating crew, Ohio State, Michigan State and available video footage stemming from the incident.

"The conference supports the decision by the official to levy a game misconduct penalty on OSU. Due to the absence of indisputable evidence presented to the conference, the conference has not imposed further disciplinary action," their statement said, adding: "The conference is dedicated to listening and learning from our student-athletes, and our Equality Coalition. We will continue to work together to constructively and collectively create inclusive, empowering and accountability resources for our member institutions."

A Michigan State administrator and the Spartans head hockey coach showed support for Joshua in statements on Monday.

“Michigan State Athletics stands with Jagger Joshua, and commends him for having the courage to speak up against racial injustice,” said Alan Haller, a vice president and athletic director, via a statement on the team's verified Twitter account . “As a department, we are committed to providing opportunities for all student-athletes to compete in a space free from discrimination, racism or hate.”

In 2020, conference commissioner Kevin Warren announced the creation of the Big Ten Conference Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition a week after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. “The Big Ten Conference will be part of the solution as we actively and constructively combat racism and hate in our country,” Warren, a former Minnesota Vikings executive, said when announcing the coalition.

In an email, the Ohio State athletic department noted that it is aware of the incident, and offered the following statement in response:

"The Ohio State Department of Athletics and the men’s hockey program worked collaboratively with the Big Ten Conference to come to a resolution in response to the allegation of misconduct toward the Big Ten sportsmanship policy."

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"Ohio State is focused on providing an inclusive and supportive environment for all. The department is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all. Our Buckeye Inclusion committee has done an outstanding job with providing education and awareness across our department, both for students and staff. We are committed to recognizing our remarkable diversity and utilizing our core values to ensure everyone attending or participating in an athletic event feels safe and welcome."

Joshua is off to his career-best start with the Spartans, with six goals and five assists in the first 14 games. His older brother Dakota played four years at Ohio State and currently skates for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks.

“At Michigan State, we are committed to a safe and welcoming space for our student-athletes,” Michigan State head coach Adam Nightingale said. “It is important to me that all student athletes feel comfortable and supported in our locker room and in our program. I am proud to have Jagger Joshua on our team.”

- Sydney Wolf and Eli Swanson of The Rink Live contributed to this report

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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