What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

Allen Greene to serve as Auburn’s first black athletic director

The former Buffalo AD will be the third black AD in SEC history

3:31 PMAuburn on Friday introduced Allen Greene as the university’s 15th athletic director, making him the first African-American AD in school history and the third ever in the Southeastern Conference.

Greene, 40, served in the same role at the University at Buffalo since 2015 and worked in the athletic department at Ole Miss from 2009-12. He joins Vanderbilt’s David Williams II and former Georgia athletic director Damon Evans as the only black ADs in SEC history.

This hiring brings the number of black athletic directors in the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) to 12, including 11 men and one woman:

  • Boston College: Martin Jarmond
  • Florida State: Stan Wilcox
  • Virginia: Carla Williams (the lone black woman)
  • Maryland: Damon Evans (interim)
  • Michigan: Warde Manuel
  • Ohio State: Gene Smith
  • Arizona State: Ray Anderson
  • California: H. Michael Williams
  • USC: Lynn Swann
  • Stanford: Bernard Muir
  • Auburn: Allen Greene
  • Vanderbilt: David Williams II

Outside of the Big 12, which has zero, each Power 5 conference has at least two black athletic directors. These 12 men and women represent 18.4 percent of the 65 athletic director jobs in the Power 5.

The numbers are not set in stone. California’s H. Michael Williams plans to step down from his position in May. Evans, serving on an interim basis at Maryland since October, may replace an outgoing black athletic director (Kevin Anderson), much like Carla Williams did at Virginia (Craig Littlepage).

Auburn president Steven Leath said Greene had “the right combination of leadership, enthusiasm, experience and management to lead Auburn Athletics to success well into the future.”

National Association of Black Journalists receives huge grant for jobs, mission

EBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s bipartisan Democracy Fund donates $200,000

6:21 PMOn the day Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, “We cannot allow this regimen of fake news, and alternative facts … to diminish our commitment to the basic constitutional protection of freedom of the press … it is essential to the future of our democracy,” the Democracy Fund awarded $200,000 to the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). The two-year restricted grant is to be utilized for staffing, and it allows NABJ to continue the execution of its mission to support journalists of color. The association’s priorities include jobs for journalists of color, professional development, social justice and advocacy. NABJ’s current strategic plan can be seen here.

“It’s a true honor to be partnering with the Democracy Fund,” NABJ president Sarah Glover said Wednesday. “The media industry faces threats, [and] organizations like NABJ are needed to give a voice to black journalists and minority communities too often overlooked. This … grant … helps NABJ meet challenges head-on, empowers our work, and strengthens our organizational capacity and trajectory for growth.”

The Democracy Fund is a bipartisan foundation created by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar. It exists to “invest in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.”

The Plug, ‘Fight Night: Francis Ngannou’ (Episode 6): The UFC star opens up

UFC’s No. 1 Contender talks all things Stipe Miocic, Trump and the love for his people

3:17 PM

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How do you prepare for a fight with a man who broke the world record for the hardest punch ever thrown just last month? Thankfully, The Plug doesn’t have to find out first hand from Francis Ngannou. That’s for his opponent—UFC champion Stipe Miocic. The two square off in the highly anticipated UFC 220 this weekend in Boston.

Ngannou is one of the fastest rising names in mixed martial arts and a win over Miocic would make him the first Cameroonian and African to lift the UFC title. But he’s far more than just a guy with one helluva punch. Ngannou opens up to The Plug about his journey to present day fame and President Donald Trump’s recent comments about “sh*thole countries.” From leaving his native Cameroon to pursue a life he knew was possible—a huge risk given the way of life and lines of thought there—to being homeless in Paris and how fighting became not only his life story, but now his life’s work, no stone is left unturned.

From there, the Squad discuss last weekend’s “Minnesota Miracle,” the future of Saints rookie Marcus Williams who missed the tackle, the NBA on MLK Day, and more. Tell everyone you know to subscribe to The Plug on the ESPN app!

Previously: The Plug, ‘To All The Ladies In The Place’ (Episode 5): Shakyla Hill and Stephania Bell get right at home

Colin Kaepernick to donate $100,000 over next 10 days

The former NFL quarterback will give away $10,000 a day to social justice organizations

3:12 PMFormer NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced on Jan. 17 that over the following 10 days he will donate the final $100,000 of his initial $1 million pledge to 10 organizations that are working to combat racial and social injustice across the country.

Dubbed the “Million Dollar Pledge” in October 2016, Kaepernick has donated $900,000 of his own funds over the past year to 31 organizations “working in oppressed communities” and will end his financial commitment next week by giving away $10,000 a day to the remaining 10 groups. Some famous friends will match his daily donations.

On Jan. 29, the ninth day of the pledge, Kaepernick and rapper Meek Mill donated a combined $20,000 to Youth Service Inc., a Philadelphia-based organization dedicated to offering “accessible, quality services to at-risk children and families” and “strengthening the family unit, helping at-risk teens and promoting child safety.” In November, Meek Mill, a Philadelphia native, was sentenced to two to four years in prison for violating the terms of his probation. The judge in that case, Genece Brinkley, is currently under FBI investigation for partial treatment of the rapper.

The Undefeated will keep a running list of the final organizations to which Kaepernick decides to donate to complete his Million Dollar Pledge.


Day 1

Organization: Silicon Valley De-Bug
Celebrity: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors forward

Day 2

Organization: Advancement Project
Celebrity: Jesse Williams, actor

Day 3

Organization: United Playaz
Celebrity: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors guard

Day 4

Organization: Mothers Against Police Brutality
Celebrity: Snoop Dogg, rapper

Day 5

Organization: Imagine LA
Celebrity: Serena Williams, tennis player

Day 6

Organization: Angel by Nature
Celebrity: T.I., rapper

Day 7

Organization: School on Wheels
Celebrity: Jhene Aiko, singer; Chris Brown, singer

Day 8

Organization: Communities United for Police Reform
Celebrity: Nick Cannon, entertainer; Joey Badass, rapper

Day 9

Organization: Youth Service Inc.
Celebrity: Meek Mill, rapper

Day 10

Organization: H.O.M.E.
Celebrity: Usher, singer

Locker room feuds: When athletes try to run up on other athletes

Ten instances when professional locker rooms were under the threat of being breached

4:41 PMAfter the Los Angeles Clippers’ 113-102 home win over the Houston Rockets on Monday, a game in which many a technical foul was called or missed, Rockets guard Chris Paul led a Suicide Squad bunch of teammates to their opponent’s locker room to, in theory, engage in fisticuffs.

As is always the case, barring Kobe Bryant-Chris Childs and Serge Ibaka-James Johnson, the players had no intention of actually fighting (a witness told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the fight was “classic NBA” and that “none of these guys were going to fight”).

In any event, the Ocean’s Eleven-style mission got us to thinking of other times professional athletes have attempted to run up on their opponent while in the sanctity of the room in which they shower. Here are 10 instances when professional locker rooms were under the threat of being breached.


1922: Babe Ruth vs. Johnny Rawlings

During the 1922 World Series between Babe Ruth’s New York Yankees and Johnny Rawlings’ New York Giants, the “Sultan of Swat” grew tired of Rawlings’ bench jockeying, so he and teammate Bob Meusel “invaded” the Giants’ locker room hoping to scrap. No hands were thrown, but the Giants technically won the non-fight, as they won the series 4-0-1 and held Ruth to just two hits and zero home runs.

2012: Zach Randolph vs. Kendrick Perkins

Zach Randolph and Kendrick Perkins were ejected in the fourth quarter of the Memphis Grizzlies’ 107-97 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder for arguing with each other (Randolph apparently yelled, “I’ll beat your a–” at Perkins), but the drama didn’t end there. The two reportedly tried to continue the altercation in the back hallways, with Randolph crossing over to the Thunder’s side of the building, earning him a $25,000 fine from the NBA. All’s well that ends well, as the two immediately squashed the beef.

2012: Lance Stephenson vs. Miami Heat players

Lance Stephenson, then in his first stint with the Indiana Pacers, had become a thorn in the side of the Miami Heat long before he blew into the ear of LeBron James during the 2014 playoffs. Stephenson and Heat center Juwan Howard, much like the respective teams they played for, had been feuding all season, and after an on-court confrontation during the second round of the 2012 playoffs, Howard, full of old-man strength, walked over to the Pacers’ locker room to try to find Stephenson. He failed in his search, but the Heat won the series in six games and eliminated the Pacers from the playoffs the next two seasons as well.

2013: Drake vs. Miami Heat security

Longtime Heat (and Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors and Kentucky and Texas A&M) fan Drake, after the Heat’s Finals victory over the San Antonio Spurs in 2013, attempted to sneak into Miami’s locker room with credentialed media to celebrate with LeBron & Co. While not an act of an athlete attempting to barge into a locker room, the most famous musician in the world’s failure to even make it through the doors merits a spot on this list.

2013: Carmelo Anthony vs. Kevin Garnett

It was reported at the time of this incident that Kevin Garnett, who has lost all benefit of the doubt for the things he’s said over the years, said Carmelo Anthony’s wife, La La, tasted like “Honey Nut Cheerios” (La La Anthony has since denied it.) Well, Anthony did not take too kindly to another man saying his spouse tasted like a nutritional breakfast, so he headed straight to the Boston Celtics’ locker room area (and team bus) to have a “one-on-one conversation” with Garnett. Anthony was suspended by the NBA for one game.

2014: John Tortorella vs. Calgary Flames

Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella, best known outside of the world of hockey for threatening to bench Team USA players if they sat for the national anthem, attempted to enter the Calgary Flames’ locker room to confront his counterpart, Bob Hartley, in response to the two teams brawling at the start of the game. In essence, Tortorella wanted to fight the other team because his players fought the other team. Hartley was fined $25,000 by the NHL.

2014: Stephen Curry vs. Los Angeles Clippers

A year before his first of back-to-back NBA MVP awards, Stephen Curry was in the midst of just his third career playoff series when he and fellow guard Steve Blake rolled up on some Los Angeles Clippers ball boys for a comment that a Clippers assistant coach made after Los Angeles eliminated the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. That led to players from both teams convening in the hallway between the two locker rooms, and, according to former Clippers guard Jared Dudley, Curry barging into the Clippers’ training room.

The Los Angeles Police Department and Staples Center security were dispatched, but the incident calmed down from there.

2016: Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks

It appears this wasn’t the Rockets’ first — pardon the pun — rodeo. Just 13 months before Monday’s kerfuffle, a contingent of Houston players, led by habitual line-steppers Trevor Ariza and James Harden, waited outside the Dallas Mavericks’ locker room for center Salah Mejri, who allegedly insulted Ariza’s family (Mejri denied this.) Ariza, supposedly the “first one through the door” during the Clippers incident, was accompanied to the Mavs’ locker room by two security guards like he was Bill Goldberg, but the altercation ended in neither blows nor fines/suspensions.

2017: Jalen Ramsey vs. A.J. Green

What started as an on-field “fight” — if you can call one man (Jalen Ramsey) being German suplexed by the other (A.J. Green) a “fight” — transitioned to the bowels of EverBank Field, as Ramsey, the loudmouthed Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback, had to be restrained from entering the Cincinnati Bengals’ locker room after both players had been ejected. He never made it inside, but Ramsey later told the media that Green is both “weak” and “soft.”

2017: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Kevin Durant

As appears to be the trend in these almost scuffles, New Orleans Pelicans power forward DeMarcus Cousins went after Kevin Durant after both players were ejected from the Golden State Warriors’ 125-115 win at the Smoothie King Center. An amazing photo by a New York Times photographer captures the exact moment Cousins was ready to scrap. Per Times reporter Scott Cacciola: “Cousins was storming down the hallway in search of Durant, who was making his way off the court after his ejection and toward the locker room. Security officers, aware that trouble was brewing, quickly diverted Durant to a small corridor as several others slowed Cousins’ progress.” Surprisingly, Cousins wasn’t fined or suspended for this incident.

Will Kanye’s new daughter influence his future art?

Kanye and Kim expand the Kardashian family empire — and welcome a baby girl

3:44 PMWell, it’s official. The West-Kardashian clan has its own starting five. Kim Kardashian West announced the news on her website in early hours of Jan. 15. Kardashian and her husband, superstar Kanye West, welcomed their third child, a healthy 7-pound, 6-ounce baby girl. “We are incredibly grateful to our surrogate who made our dreams come true with the greatest gift one could give, and to our wonderful doctors and nurses for their special care,” Kardashian West said. “North and Saint are especially thrilled to welcome their baby sister.”

West and Kardashian West are two of the most famous people in the world, as a couple and individually. But the image of them as parents appears to be very private — as much as one can be in a Kardashian world. And, whether by design or destiny, West’s been unusually silent for nearly a year. Of course, with West, cameras are always around, but the “Famous” producer, designer and rapper hasn’t made many headlines since his brief moment with then-new President Donald Trump and an onstage rant that became fodder for Jay-Z’s Grammy-nominated 4:44. Maybe West needed to fall back for a minute?

He is listed as an executive producer on Damon Dash’s new film Honor Up (set for select theaters and OnDemand Feb. 16). But musically, even if West has been privately active, he’s been publicly dormant, a strategic move that may play in his favor if, in fact, he’s been in a creative musical cave. And it’ll be interesting to see whether the birth of his third child influences his music in the ways North and Saint did. But: Until concrete evidence is provided, talk of a new Kanye project will remain just that — talk. Then again, he’s got more important duties to take care of at the moment. New babies are everything.

Lakers legend Elgin Baylor will get his very own statue at L.A.’s Staples Center

The Hall of Famer’s unveiling ceremony will take place in April

3:40 PMThirty-five years after his No. 22 jersey was retired, Los Angeles Lakers great Elgin Baylor is being honored with his very own statue for his contributions to the team.

The Hall of Famer’s statue will join the likes of former Lakers players Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson and Lakers broadcaster Francis “Chick” Hearn in Star Plaza at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. An outdoor unveiling ceremony will be held April 6 shortly before the Lakers’ tipoff against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“It’s something people have been talking to me about for some time,” Baylor told the Southern California News Group. “I don’t know how I’m going to react or anything once I see it because nothing like that has ever happened before. But I’m sure that I will enjoy it.”

Baylor entered the NBA after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1958, and he averaged 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 846 games during the course of his 14-year career. He earned his spot as a first-team All-NBA player 10 times and appeared in 11 All-Star games.

Baylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977, six years after announcing his retirement, and was the Los Angeles Clippers’ general manager for 22 years.

After being present for the unveiling ceremonies of O’Neal, West, Abdul-Jabbar and Hearn, Baylor being honored with his own statue is only right.

“I am thrilled that 60 years after the Minneapolis Lakers drafted Elgin, we are able to celebrate and honor him with a statue,” said Lakers CEO and controlling owner Jeanie Buss. “Not only is Elgin a part of the Lakers family, his contributions to the game of basketball earned him a place in the Hall of Fame. His list of accomplishments are unparalleled, and I can’t wait to see his statue at Star Plaza alongside the other Lakers legends.”

Memphis Grizzlies players and coaches share sentiments about playing on MLK Day

An event-filled weekend and win over Lakers gives team an edge going into MLK50

10:58 AMWhen NBA players live and work in a city where Martin Luther King Jr. made such an impact, they find themselves faced with a duty to defend their home court. The Memphis Grizzlies maneuvered their way to a 123-114 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday at the FedEx Forum in the 16th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration.

The day consisted of many festivities including the honoring of WNBA and NBA players during the 13th Annual National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award. This year’s recipients were Penny Hardaway, Sam Perkins, James Worthy and WNBA All-Star Swin Cash. The award recognizes dedicated contributions to civil and human rights and laying foundations for future leaders through their career in sports in the spirit of King.

(From left to right) Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Penny Hardaway, Sam Perkins, Bernie Bickerstaff, Swin Cash and James Worthy tour the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

The weekend was filled with events that included a discussion at the National Civil Rights Museum (“MLK50: Where Do We Go From Here”) with Cash, Grizzlies guard Mike Conley and Lakers center Brook Lopez. Before tipoff on Monday, the honorees participated in the Earl Lloyd Sports Legacy Symposium.

Sports teams often visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, which houses the location where King was shot. Check out what players had to say about playing in Memphis on MLK Day while the city prepares for MLK50, the 50th year commemorating King’s death.


“When you have this opportunity to pay that respect, you do this job with the best of your ability. You give everything that you’ve got in honor of those who had to fight those fights for you and the sacrifices that they made for you. … Understanding how the organization, the city, and the community fought to get the game back on Martin Luther King Jr. Day was an eye-opening thing. It was an awareness of just how important this game is and how much it means to be played today.” – Grizzlies interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff

“This is my second time that I remember being part of MLK Day. It’s a special game, special moment for a person that did a lot for not only African-Americans but for us as a society. It’s always good to come out here and celebrate him.” – Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers

“It means a lot [to play in Memphis]. It brings a lot of my passion out and makes me want to play harder for the organization and for the Memphis fans. It’s my first MLK Day playing. It felt great. I’ve visited [the National Civil Rights Museum] twice. I learned so much about history. Coming from Canada, you don’t really know a lot because it’s very multicultural. I figured out a lot of things, like how to appreciate my culture more.” – Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks

“Coming out here every night and playing for Memphis means so much to me because the fans are great. I’ve got a lot of fan base from when I was in school. I can put up two jerseys: one for college and one for the NBA. Martin Luther King gave us a chance to chase our dreams, so I’m happy to play on this day.” – Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans

“It’s an absolute honor to play on this holiday, I think. For where we are as a world and where we’re trying to go, Martin Luther King Jr. stood up for what was right. But what really separates him is he really emphasized doing it through a peaceful manner, and all he wanted is what everyone should want and that’s equality. To be able to play on this day, especially with a sport where you get so many people from different backgrounds and different places across the world, it’s an honor.” – Lakers head coach Luke Walton

The NBA celebrates MLK Day

A game-by-game look at how teams chose to honor the civil rights icon

6:37 PMTo celebrate the life and accomplishments of civil rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the NBA offered an 11-game slate for fans on MLK Day on Monday. Outside of the live action, the 22 teams in action chose to honor King in their own distinctive ways.

The Undefeated will keep a running list of the teams’ various acts of appreciation, starting with the Charlotte Hornets vs. Detroit Pistons opening game all the way to the Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers nightcap.


Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons

Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers

Milwaukee Bucks at Washington Wizards

The Wizards held their annual “We are Dreamers” panel discussion, this year involving Washington, D.C.-area male leaders and 60 young men talking about the life and career aspirations of the young males and what it will take to achieve those goals. Before tipoff, Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. addressed the Capital One Arena crowd, celebrating King, who “preached positivity and love over hate.” That was followed by the singing of the national anthem by gospel singer Annisse Murillo. At halftime, the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir took the arena to church, singing “America the Beautiful.”

After the game, Wizards All-Star guard John Wall spoke with reporters about playing on MLK Day: “I’m striving to be a better African-American athlete, and just as a person first of all. I think that’s the most important thing.”

San Antonio Spurs at Atlanta Hawks

New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets

Miami Heat at Chicago BullS

Los Angeles Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies debuted their “I Am A Man” city edition uniforms that The Undefeated’s Aaron Dodson exclusively reported on in December. The team also visited the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel on Sunday.

Sacramento Kings at Oklahoma City Thunder

Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers

Indiana Pacers at Utah Jazz

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers

Kevin Sumlin, Herm Edwards to duel in the desert

This isn’t the first time black coaches will lead rival Division I football programs

7:58 PMTwitter asked, and we answered.

Former Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin is the new coach at Arizona. Sumlin, who was fired last November after compiling a 51-26 record with the Aggies, replaces Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats dismissed Rodriguez amid a sexual harassment investigation.

Sumlin’s hiring means black coaches will lead Arizona and rival Arizona State, which hired Herm Edwards in December. But have rival Division I football programs ever had black coaches at the same time? That was the question on Twitter.

The answer is yes. With some help from Twitter and our friends at ESPN Stats & Info, we’ve determined it has happened at least five times previously in the Football Bowl Subdivision, including when Sumlin was at Texas A&M.

Twitter gave us a head start on the list:

Indeed, John Blake (Oklahoma) and Bob Simmons (Oklahoma State) were with the rival programs at the same time from 1996-98. Also making the list:

2009-11: DeWayne Walker (New Mexico State) and Mike Locksley (New Mexico)

2010-12: Joker Phillips (Kentucky) and Charlie Strong (Louisville)

2014-16: Strong (Texas) and Sumlin (Texas A&M)

2017: Willie Taggart (Oregon) and interim coach Cory Hall (Oregon State)

Strong and Sumlin did not meet during their time in Texas. The traditional rivals have not played since 2011 after Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.

Sumlin brings the number of African-American coaches in the FBS to 13 out of 128 teams.

The black coaches in FBS, including Sumlin:

  • James Franklin, Penn State
  • David Shaw, Stanford
  • Charlie Strong, South Florida
  • Willie Taggart, Florida State
  • Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
  • Dino Babers, Syracuse
  • Lovie Smith, Illinois
  • Frank Wilson, Texas, San Antonio
  • Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina
  • Mike Jinks, Bowling Green
  • Everett Withers, Texas State
  • Herm Edwards, Arizona State
  • Kevin Sumlin, Arizona