This past weekend was supposed to be little more than a warm-up for Appalachian State’s men’s tennis team. Facing Lees-McRae and North Carolina A&T, one of North Carolina’s storied HBCUs, the home match was one of those early-season contests the Mountaineers scheduled against low-tier local programs to get into the swing of things before the season starts up. For App State freshman Spencer Brown, this meant an opportunity to flex his dominance on the court and solidify his spot in the singles rotation; instead, due to racist comments he’s accused of directing at his opponent, it ended with his indefinite suspension and a four-game suspension for Mountaineer head coach, Bob Lake.
Brown took on a player three years his senior and cruised past him, barely breaking a sweat. North Carolina A&T senior John Wilson IV, who was also elected senior class president, was on the losing side of things, dropping the match against Brown 6-1, 6-1. The defeat was part of a 7-0 sweep by App State, which also swept the visiting Lees-McRae squad.
After the match, Wilson used his Twitter account to accuse Brown of making a racially charged comment during the match:
Shortly thereafter, App State released a statement confirming that Brown had directed a derogatory insult at Brown, and announced that Brown had been suspended indefinitely (via the Winston-Salem Journal):
“After yesterday’s men’s tennis match, an Appalachian State student-athlete engaged in behavior that was derogatory and offensive,” the release said. “This student-athlete has been suspended indefinitely from the team, effective immediately, for violating the student-athlete discipline policy.”
Per an A&T team source, the mid-match shit-talking between Wilson and Brown was largely standard for the entirety of the match. It was only at the conclusion of the rout, once victory was clearly in the hands of the Mountaineer rookie, that Brown lashed out with the derogatory remark.
In an interview with the Winston-Salem Journal on Monday, Appalachian State athletic director Doug Gillin claimed the program was still investigating whether Lake was the App State coach who allegedly said, “We have a black guy on our team,” when Wilson complained to him about Brown’s comments.
The A&T team source told Deadspin on Tuesday that Lake was indeed the App State coach that brushed Wilson off. On Tuesday evening, the school released a statement announcing that Lake has been suspended for the next four matches:
That same night, Appalachian State chancellor Sheri Everts announced a third-party commission to investigate the levels of inclusion and diversity within the athletic department.
An Appalachian State spokesperson declined to make Brown or Lake available for comment.
The Mountaineers tennis team will move forward without Brown and Lake, with their next opponent North Carolina Central (another HBCU) coming to Boone on Friday.