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US Air Force football coach apologizes

October 27, 2005 11:57 IST

The head football coach at the US Air Force Academy apologized on Wednesday for saying the school needs to recruit more black athletes because they run faster than other players.

"I realize the things that I said might have been hurtful to many people and I want everyone to understand that I never intended to offend anyone," Fisher DeBerry told a news conference from the academy's Colorado Springs, Colorado headquarters.

DeBerry has been under fire for comments he made about his team's lack of speed after its 48-10 loss to Texas Christian University on Saturday.

"It was very obvious to me the other day that the other team had a lot more African-American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did," DeBerry said at a news conference on Tuesday that aired on Denver television stations.

"Their defense had 11 Afro-American

kids on their team and they were a very, very good defensive football team. It just seems to me that Afro-American kids can run very, very well."

DeBerry was accompanied at Wednesday's news conference by Athletic Director Hans Mueh, who said DeBerry received a verbal reprimand from superintendent Lt. Gen. John Regni for the "inappropriate comments," but will face no further disciplinary action.

The incident was the second time in less than a year that DeBerry has stirred controversy. In November, academy officials forced him to remove a locker room banner that said, "I am a member of Team Jesus Christ" at a time when the academy was being accused of religious intolerance toward non-Christians.

DeBerry, 67, in his 22nd season as head coach of the academy and has a 161-94-1 career record, the most wins by any football coach at the three military academies.
Keith Coffman
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