Editor’s Note: The Candor has left part of the slur intact, to differentiate it from other forms of the word.
Keith Bunkenburg, Benedictine’s Head Men’s Basketball coach, said the N-word to a Black player on his team during an open gym Tuesday.
“This is not a Black issue, it’s a Benedictine issue,” said Black Student Union President Keewaun Stokes.
The team lined up on the end line to stretch when Kevin Agwomoh, a men’s basketball player, walked in with his speaker on a low volume level. Coach Bunkenberg allegedly said to Kevin Agwomoh, “I’m just not trying to hear the word n-—er and bitches.”
Words were exchanged and heated, Coach Bunkenburg allegedly said if he hears it in songs, he feels like he has the right to say it [n-word], according to Kevin Agwomoh.
Kevin Agwomoh stated he wanted to stretch and play ball with his team and Coach Bunkenburg refused him to do so. They both went up to his office where Coach Bunkenburg asked Kevin Agwomoh if he saw where he was coming from, what was the big deal but concluded the conversation by saying that he should’ve never said it in front of his face, according to Kevin Agwomoh.
“He shot me a text later on that day, he just didn’t seem sincere, he didn’t feel like he messed up. This is someone who is supposed to be a leader on campus, my personal leader, my coach,” stated Kevin Agwomoh.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what generation you are from, what type of creed you belong to, wrong is wrong, regardless if you are faculty, student, janitor, etc.,” stated Sophie LeNoir, Secretary of Black Student Union.
“This is nothing new,” stated Marvin Agwomoh, Kevin’s brother. He discussed an incident that occurred early on in their season, when Coach Bunkenburg made a joke in front of the whole team, including coaches, saying “I’m going to the hood with Marvin and Kevin.”
After the fact of saying the “joke” Coach Bunkenburg tried to continue the joke by mentioning a white player, then went on to say he was sorry and shouldn’t have gone to that extent according to Marvin Agwomoh.
Kevin and Marvin stated they didn’t report the incident at the beginning of their season because they didn’t want to give their new teammates a bad impression of their coach and they thought it would affect their playing time in the future.
“We just played it off as if he just had a joke that wasn’t funny,” stated Kevin.
Others noticed the behavior also.
“He always used to yell at the boys, I just thought it was just what a coach is, I didn’t think there was any animosity towards it, but hearing this, it does bring some light some of his attitude towards the Black players,” Yngride Jeanphilippe, former men’s basketball manager.
The Candor reached out to BenU President Charles Gregory, Provost Kenneth Newbold, and Director of Athletics, Paul Nelson; they were unable to comment at this time.
The Candor also tried to contact Coach Bunkenburg, with no response.
Marvin and his brother Kevin Agwomoh met with Liz Velez, Director of University Housing and Residence life, Marco Masini, Dean of Students, and Paul Nelson, Director of Athletics on Wednesday informing the students that the incident is currently under investigation.
Bendictine students and alumni have been posting #FireCoachBunks on personal Snapchat and Instagram accounts.
Men’s basketball alumni, Walter Taylor, stated he was one of the first to post on his personal Snapchat and stated, “I feel like he better lose his job” and “BenU won’t be as diverse.”
Cameron Hope, a runner for the Benedictine Track team and member of the Black Student Union posted on his Snapchat story, “ Basketball coach wanna say the N-word… yeah Benedictine will be hearing from me yet again.”
“This is once again heartbreaking, as a Black woman on this campus I am very uncomfortable, distraught, just lost for words,” stated Mercedes Wynter, Vice President of the Black Student Union, “It’s sick. A player is being disrespected, (the coach) needs to be fired.”
Bunkenburg became the head men’s basketball coach at his alma mater, Benedictine, in 1995. During his time at Benedictine, he was voted the National Coach of the Year, he is the winningest coach at Benedictine, selected for NCAA Coach of the Year and IBCA Coach of the Year multiple times, according to the Benedictine Athletics Website.
Marvin Agwomoh, brother of Kevin Agwomoh and a men’s basketball player stated, “I was shocked, this is actually coming from my coach.”
“I’m so tired of people saying that cancel culture is a thing, black people are too sensitive, that we should let it go, it happened so long ago, but still today on this campus we experience it like its an everyday thing. I just hope we take swift and just action and we do right by a community of students that have been repeatedly underserved and underprivileged at this university,” said Stokes.
“The fact that this, man, a grown adult expressed his cultural insensitivity and blatant ignorance to a black athlete, shows a lot about his poor choice in morals, character, and this is why we keep having to reiterate the importance of knowing front and back the hate and bias training we are trying to impose on our staff,” said LeNoir,
“This isn’t a social issue, this isn’t an academic issue, it’s an institutional issue. The excuse that is interfering with our complaints and uncomfortability, is the fact that “oh, we should let it go, slavery was years ago, segregation was so long ago,” added LeNoir.
Randall Reed, Chloe Drozdz, Ali Khan, Fariha Ahsan, Greg Hoard and Nathan Rillo contributed to this story.