Gavin Bell, a left fielder at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, Colo., was looking for a place to play in college and stumbled upon Texas Wesleyan, an NAIA school in Fort Worth. Apparently thinking it could be a good fit, his father sent an inquiry to Rams baseball coach Mike Jeffcoat about possibly playing for the Rams.
But Jeffcoat did not think Bell would be a good fit because he hails from Colorado, where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2014. He told Bell this in an email that quickly went viral.
In a statement released Wednesday, Texas Wesleyan confirmed that Jeffcoat had sent the email and said it does not adhere to the school’s anti-discrimination policy.
“We are aware of the email sent by our baseball coach, and the comments he made are in no way a reflection of Texas Wesleyan University, its values or its recruiting practices,” the statement read. “This is a personnel matter and it is currently under investigation. It is our University policy to not discuss personnel matters, but we want to reiterate that this email does not reflect our values and we do not condone discrimination. This includes discrimination on the basis of race, color, origin, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability or sexuality; or the political legislation of one’s home state. We are committed to providing an inclusive campus for all of our students, faculty, staff, visitors, potential students and their families.”
Putting aside the fact that marijuana is legal in Colorado because its voters wanted it to be — the 2012 ballot initiative that cleared the way for it passed with 55 percent of the vote — and not because of its “liberal politicians,” the logical leap Jeffcoat took in his email seemed to defy expectation.
“I’ve never seen a coach send an email like that to a kid. I was kind of shocked a coach would connect a political issue to a kid,” Allan Dyer, Bell’s former high school coach, told the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday. “It just made no sense. The student has not been in trouble one time at our school.”
Plus, the Rams currently have one player from Colorado on their roster: freshman outfielder Logan Bistrup. Another, catcher Aidan Laurini from Centennial, Colo., was listed on Texas Wesleyan’s 2017 roster as a junior, though he’s not listed on this year’s roster and has not compiled any statistics through 13 games this season. His Twitter bio still starts with “Texas Wesleyan baseball,” however, and in October he was mentioned as a senior in a story about an intrasquad scrimmage on the team’s official website.
Jeffcoat, who spent 10 MLB seasons as a left-handed relief pitcher for four teams, has been Texas Wesleyan’s coach since 2002.
Bell told the Chronicle he simply was looking to get closer to his family’s roots.
“All I know is he got back to me on the 20th and I am a Texas native and we were just looking at the schools in the area I had used to live in,” he told the Chronicle, adding that he hopes Jeffcoat doesn’t lose his job over the incident.