VSU launches inquiry into viral video

Aug. 24—VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University has launched an investigation into a video posted to social media supposedly showing a white university baseball coach and a Black player arguing about the player's hair which has gone viral.

In a statement released Thursday, the university said its Office of Human Resources is conducting a "comprehensive inquiry into the current matter and will address any personnel actions that are deemed to violate university policy if the inquiry reveals anything."

The university is progressing through required due process procedures, according to the statement.

"In keeping with the Valdosta State University Non-Discrimination Policy, the university is committed to maintaining a fair, respectful, and non-discriminatory environment for all," the university said.

The recording seems to have first been posted to TikTok and has spread to several social media sites since. The person, who is unseen but is said to be a white coach, tells VSU baseball player Asher Akridge, who is Black, that his hair is not in compliance to play for the team.

The TikTok bears the watermark asherthegreat24 and is posted to his account with the hashtag #valdostastateuniversity. Captions with the video include "Valdosta state university 2023 or 1945."

In it the player and his coach talk not just about the appearance of his hair but if other players are following the same rule.

The recording, which appears to be via a phone's video feature, does not show either individual in the conversation as it seems to have been placed in a hidden location. Neither speaker refers to the other by name during the conversation.

The Valdosta Daily Times has not independently verified the origin of the video or the individuals in the video.

Social media commenting has included accusations of racism and unequal treatment of the player in question.

The player believed to be at the center of the controversy with the coach over his hair is not listed currently for VSU's baseball roster for 2023 or 2024, but is listed in official box scores posted by the university to its athletics website. Baseball Reference, a website that compiles baseball statistics for college and professional teams, lists Akridge as only participating in one game in 2023 for VSU.

Terry Richards is the senior reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times.