The University of Florida has yanked a sports scholarship from a star high school football recruit after the athlete was caught using racist language in a video that went viral online.
According to Sports Illustrated, the Division I school pulled the 2023 scholarship for quarterback Marcus Stokes—a top recruit and senior at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida—on Sunday for the offensive language.
“Welcome back, n—-,” Stokes is heard saying in a video as he sings along to music while riding in a car.
Stokes apologized on Sunday in a statement on his Twitter account posted after the university’s scholarship offer was withdrawn.
“I accept the consequences for my actions,” Stokes wrote.
“I was in my car listening to rap music, rapping along to the words and posted a video of it on social media,” he continued. “I deeply apologize for the words in the song that I chose to say. It was hurtful and offensive to many people, and I regret that.”
“I respect the University of Florida’s decision to withdraw my scholarship offer to play football,” he added. “My intention was never to hurt anybody and I recognize that even when going along with a song, my words still carry a lot of weight. I will strive to be better and to become the best version of myself both on and off the field. I know that learning from my mistakes is a first important step.”
The University of Florida’s decision to release Stokes was met with mixed reactions online.
“Why even record yourself in the 1st place singing lyrics to a song with those choice of words!?” @DeeMarley16 responded on Twitter. “I get that you’re 18 but I’m sure you’re not new to social media and with that being said, you should know that every action has a reaction. Good luck tho!”
“This is the only appropriate response,” tweeted @JagsAndUF. “There has to be a zero tolerance approach to that word and if this guy is saying it, recording it, and posting it, then imagine what he may be saying off camera.”
In Gator Gang, a public forum on Facebook, fans of the University of Florida football team shared different views on the matter.
“Singing a song where it’s in the lyrics and using it as a racial slur are two completely different things…I said what I said,” wrote Robert Orem.
“I completely agree,” Bobby Alexander III commented. “I could understand if he was using the N word bashing someone and using it in a derogatory way but he was simply rapping a song.”
After flipping from his previous commitment to Penn State University in July, Stokes had been promised to Florida, local newspaper Penn Live reported.
According to the college athletics site On3, Stokes was also offered football positions at the universities of South Florida, Indiana, and Pittsburgh. He attended the same high school as NFL first-round draft pick Tim Tebow.
The National Collegiate Athletics Association, University of Florida, Penn State University, and Nease High School did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.