Florida State fan post stating Willie Taggart should be lynched prompts outrage
A Florida State fan posted images on socials media depicting coach Willie Taggart getting lynched, prompting outrage on Sunday.
Florida State president John Thrasher released a statement Sunday stating the post was unacceptable and indicated an investigation is being conducted by the state attorney.
“A recent racist social media post aimed at our football coach is ignorant and despicable,” Thrasher said in the statement. “I speak for the entire FSU community in expressing our disgust and extreme disappointment, and I am glad the state attorney is investigating. Coach Taggart has our full support and as true Seminoles know, he is a respected member of the FSU family.”
Emotions ran high Saturday night among Florida State fans after a season-ending loss to rival Florida. As many took to social media to express their disappointment with the season, one post was immediately rebuked by fans of both Florida State and other college football programs who saw it circulated online.
Under a post made in the Facebook group Florida State Football, a meme depicting Willie Taggart being lynched with the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing your rep,” was posted in a thread of comments. The account user was listed as Tom Shand.
When another fan in the same thread asked if the person was serious, the user replied via the Shand account, “I’m dead [expletive] serious. This is how far I’m willing to go to get rid of this clown!!!”
The post has since been deleted, but not before fans saved screenshots that were used in posts calling for Shand to be fired from his job.
His Facebook name was used to locate what appeared to be his LinkedIn account, which indicated he worked for Hilton Grand Vacation in Orlando. With that information, FSU fans began tagging the Hilton Grand Vacations Twitter account in posts, suggesting Shand face consequences for the Taggart comments.
The Hilton corporate office was closed during the weekend and no one from the company could be reached by the Sentinel to confirm Shand’s employment or comment on the Taggart post.
Fans also found posts on the Shand Facebook account directed at former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith written with the same racial undertone.
By Sunday afternoon, Facebook and Twitter accounts under Shand’s name have been deleted, but screenshots of posts are still being circulated widely online.
During his postgame press conference Saturday, Taggart vowed to improve after the Seminoles posted a 5-7 record during his first season leading the program. He urged fans to never lower their expectations for success on the field.