UCLA Athletics announced on Monday that they have dismissed Chris Weiland, a former student athlete, from the track and cross country teams after a video of him using racist, homophobic, and sexist language surfaced on social media.
Avery Anderson, UCLA's track and field coach, released a statement on Monday about the decision to dismiss Weiland.
“Chris Weiland has been dismissed as a member of the cross country and track and field teams. When first learning of this a few months ago, I was disgusted and immediately suspended him indefinitely from the team. Even in my disgust, as a coach, my intentions are always to lead and educate and make the change happen that I want to see in this world. I can talk about changing the world, or I can put in the work to do so. And that is what I have done over the last few months with this individual.
"In January, I decided to reinstate him to the team. However, after team members and the athletic community expressed concern, it became clear that his continued involvement with the team is incompatible with the culture of mutual support and respect we’re fostering. I now realize that the decision to reinstate him was not the right decision, and that the action today is best for the well-being of our team.”
As referenced in Anderson's statement, Weiland's behavior in the video was reported to the team months ago, even though the video was made public just recently. Weiland was suspended indefinitely after the initial report, but was reinstated in January. While Anderson says he "put in work" to educate Weiland, those specific efforts have not been made public.
Weiland is listed as a senior on the UCLA track and field website. He transferred to UCLA after spending two seasons at Mt. San Antonio College and one season at Cal State San Marcos. The Los Angeles Times reported that the events in the video took place in 2019, before Weiland transferred to UCLA.
The video, which was posted on an Instagram account called "ucla_is_racist," appears to show Weiland in a darkened car talking to someone on his cell phone about a confrontation he had with his girlfriend over her cheating on him. According to the Los Angeles Times, Weiland has been positively identified in the video by several people close to the UCLA track and field program.
In the video, Weiland uses the n-word to describe the man his girlfriend cheated on him with, calls him a homophobic slur, says he lives in the "ghetto," and that he "has no future" because he'll "be in community college all his life."
The woman on the phone tells him not to talk like that and urges him to move forward with his life, and also reminds him that he has cheated on his girlfriend as well. Weiland responds by saying that she's just trying to justify his girlfriend "being a little slut."
The caption on the video says that Weiland is talking to his mother, but that has not been verified. According to the Los Angeles Times, the video was shot in 2019, before Weiland transferred to UCLA.
Athlete outcry led to Weiland's dismissal
The release of the video, coupled with Weiland's recent reinstatement to the track and field team, sparked widespread criticism from athletes and campus groups.
The Black Student Athlete Alliance released a statement about Weiland and the actions of UCLA Athletics on Monday, which was reposted on Instagram by numerous student groups including the Afrikan Student Union at UCLA.
Weiland's track and field teammate, Kenroy Higgins II, commented on the BSAA's Instagram post with a reflection of his own experience at UCLA.
Higgins referenced Anderson, the only Black head coach at UCLA, in a comment on BSAA’s post, saying that the university does not care about him as a Black student-athlete.
“They make our only black head coach feel like he gotta walk on thin ice up here,” the comment also said.
UCLA gymnast Margzetta Frazier and women's basketball player Lauryn Miller also commented on the BSAA's post, urging the school and the department to take action. Former UCLA soccer player Kaiya McCullough, who spent knelt in protest during the national anthem for three years, passionately tweeted about her reaction to the video.
“As a Black student-athlete alumni that has stood diligently against racism and bigotry in all forms, I am APPALLED that this behavior is not only being excused, but covered up by your departments. To allow Chris Weiland to continue to participate in competition and maintain his enrollment at @UCLA is a stark contrast to the values that UCLA and your department claim to uphold. Allowing this behavior to go unpunished is a clear message to your Black students and student-athletes about your stance on racism and hate. I am disgusted by the inaction exhibited by the administration, and the continued trauma you are putting your Black students and student-athletes through. DO BETTER. This is precisely why I kneeled for 3 years ON CAMPUS.”
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