Virginia Tech men’s basketball coach Mike Young took a cheap shot at the religious group Jehovah’s Witnesses on Tuesday during a press call leading up to Friday’s game with the University of Florida.
“We’re not playing the Jehovah’s Witness all-star team here. We’re playing the Gators, man, we’re playing the Gators,” Young told reporters. “This is it. This is one game and if you play poorly or get outplayed, I’m going to be walking out the hall after talking to you guys via Zoom, and there’s going to be an NCAA representative telling me, ‘Your plane leaves in 45 minutes. Good luck to you. Go get your stuff packed and get out of here.’”
Young apologized for his comment later that day. “Earlier today on the NCAA tournament conference call, I attempted to show my respect for our upcoming opponent, the University of Florida. Regrettably, I didn’t articulate that sentiment in an appropriate manner,” he said. “I apologize for my insensitive remark and am sincerely sorry for anyone I may have offended.”
Young was named ACC “Coach of the Year” last week after leading Virginia Tech to a 15-5 season and a No. 3 seed in the ACC Tournament. The team was expected to finish 11th in the preseason and ended up with a 9-4 league record.
The Hokies are a No. 10 seed and match up with the No. 7 Florida Gators on Friday.
According to the BBC, the Jehovah’s Witness religion was founded in New York City at the end of the 19th century. Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for going door to door to spread the word of God, and “avoid violent sports that deliberately hurt people.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been targeted throughout history for their refusal to serve in the military or help with war efforts. The group is banned as extremists in many countries. In Russia, members are regularly persecuted by the government for belonging to the religion, which has been labeled an “extremist ideology.”