Listen to former Utah defensive back Ryan Lacy. He sounds reasonable, credible, believable. And hurt.
Yet, he essentially was left in the cold by the recent so-called investigation done for the University of Utah in the Morgan Scalley case. His voice was not heard, he says. He feels as though investigators did not follow up on his reports and instead made him out to be a liar.
But he swears he is no liar. He swears he is telling the truth about things Scalley said to him, things that included the N-word, things that made him uncomfortable, not about his playing abilities, rather about his race.
He also says his claims made on social media resulted in some fringe component of Utah football fans — one would figure it is a lunatic fringe — threatening him, aiming death threats at him, posting his mother’s address and a picture of his son, making him take time away from work to watch over his mom to make sure she was OK.
During an interview with David James and Patrick Kinahan on 1280 The Zone on Thursday, Lacy was asked about Scalley being retained as defensive coordinator, despite his text from 2013 in which he used a racist slur, a horrible bit of ignorance on Scalley’s part, one he admitted to and for which he was disciplined, losing half his salary and having his head-coach-in-waiting status stripped away.
But Lacy says investigators did not take what he offered about Scalley’s behavior into proper consideration. What he characterizes as an overtly racist exchange from Scalley directed at him during his playing days at Utah was deemed to be inconsequential or unbelievable or insignificant or inconvenient.
The inconvenience part Lacy can buy, but not the rest of it.
He says he told the truth and that no one at the university or on the investigative crew listened to him, though he communicated with them “on a couple of occasions,” and nobody followed up, Lacy believes, with others who might have corroborated his story.
If so, a pattern with Scalley would have been evidenced.
“It’s not a story, it’s the truth,” Lacy says. “… What I said was the truth. After reading through the report from the investigators, I just feel like there wasn’t enough investigation done on my claim. It is what it is.”
And Lacy says the notion that a combination of university officials and investigators ignored what he said puts him in a precarious position as a whistleblower — with seemingly nothing legitimate to blow about.
He says, though, it is legitimate.
“The truth is the truth,” he says. “It happened and it’s something that as a young player, it happened to me. And I held onto that for a long time. I did approach [Scalley] in front of teammates [back then] and we discussed it completely. And now, come 12 years later, he’s under investigation for something else that happened.”
Lacy says he never wanted Scalley to lose his job, that there is no motivation for him to create any kind of false narrative about the Utah coach, nor to do damage to him.
“I would never want a man to lose his career over a mistake,” he says. “But he got away with calling me [the] N-word.”
Lacy’s still a Utah football fan. He considers himself a Ute. He still wears his ring and his Utah gear, he says, with pride and honor.
But he does want the truth, as he sees it, to be known.
“My allegations were denied [by] Morgan Scalley,” Lacy says. “It was a big surprise to me.”
He adds: “I’m looked at as a liar. … I’m highly upset about it.”
That sort of discrepancy casts some doubt, even if it’s just that, on the integrity of a university that has had its share of troubles in recent years. Most specifically those troubles regard a former swim coach who abused his athletes and a university police force that did not take the concerns of a student-athlete seriously enough to act promptly in providing her the safety she needed and deserved before she was murdered. The school is still stumbling over itself in that case.
And now, there’s the Scalley deal.
The defensive coordinator admitted to his use of racist language in the aforementioned text. It would be difficult for anyone to deny something that was in written form, something everyone could see. Lacy’s encounter, however, was spoken. It did not present cold, hard, traceable evidence. In other words, without the backing of others who might have heard what was said, it is easy to deny or ignore.
And that troubles Lacy in no small way. And now he’s getting horrific threats.
The university condemned such negative reaction aimed at Lacy, but, in an unfortunate twist, the way Lacy spells it out, it was the investigation’s lack of attention — and the university’s response — to his allegations that stirred such lunacy.
“I just feel like it’s a slap to my face,” he says. “Not only to me, but to any other minority that goes to that university playing under Morgan Scalley. … I don’t hate the man. But he did say that to me. … He needs to tell the truth.”
During a teleconference on Wednesday, Scalley said, “I don’t try to hide from the truth.”
The university is standing behind its now-completed investigation. Contacted for a response to Lacy, a school representative said Friday: “We do not have additional comment.”
Nobody outside of those who heard or were promptly made aware of what occurred between Scalley and Lacy — he says investigators only talked with three other players about his allegations — knows with exactness what occurred. But if you read or especially if you listen to Lacy’s answers to questions in his radio interview, it’s in no way responsible to dismiss his account.
In short, he’s easy to believe.
As for the university and its findings, its judgment, that belief comes more haltingly.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.