Dayton basketball head coach delivers emotional plea after players receive online hate: ‘It sickens me’

 

Dayton Flyers men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant delivered an emotional speech after his team’s 68-61 win over Davidson after some of his players received hateful online messages from gamblers impacted by game outcomes.

Grant, who has been the head coach of Dayton since the 2017-18 season, spoke to reporters after some of his players reportedly received hateful online messages following a 63-62 loss to VCU Friday night.

Dayton Flyers head coach Anthony Grant during the National Invitational Tournament game against the Toledo Rockets on March 16, 2022 at Savage Arena in Toledo, Ohio.
(Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“I have to say something because I think it’s just necessary at this point,” Grant said Tuesday. “You know, these young men, we’re asking them to sacrifice quite a bit for us to be able to do what we do and enjoy what we enjoy. So I’m just asking all the Flyer fans just to understand that we’re dealing with 18, 21, 22-year-olds, and this is about them.

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“So, those of us that love the Flyers – which is the vast majority of our fan base – we appreciate you. But if this is about anything else that doesn’t relate to what’s in the best interest of the kids, what’s in the best interest of this university and this proud program, this community that loves the Flyers … There’s some laws that have recently been enacted, that really to me, it could really change the landscape of what college sports is all about.”

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On Jan. 1, sports betting was legalized in Ohio, becoming one of 36 states to legalize sports gambling.

Head coach Anthony Grant of the Dayton Flyers reacts during the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Capital One Arena on March 11, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
(G Fiume/Getty Images)

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Dayton athletic director Neil Sullivan told the Dayton Daily News that players received online hate and “threats of violence” from gamblers around the country who had lost money.

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“And when we have people that make it about themselves and attack kids because of their own agenda, it sickens me,” Grant added. “They have families. They don’t deserve that. Mental health is real. So if you’re a Flyer fan, I ask you just to understand what you’re dealing with, with young people. Alright? Take a step back, and reevaluate your priorities. And if you can’t, we don’t need you.”

Flyers head coach Anthony Grant directs his team against the Robert Morris Colonials at UD Arena on Nov. 19, 2022 in Dayton, Ohio.
(Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Sullivan said there has been a rise in online hate directed toward Dayton players since betting was legalized in Ohio.

“These are young kids,” Sullivan said, “and I’m not going to add too much to what (Grant) said, but I’m the paid adult. If someone’s getting mad, they can get mad at me. They know where to find me. They’ve found me many times.”

The Flyers are 13-6 on the season and 5-1 in Atlantic 10 conference play.