This story has been updated to reflect a new statement from Ohio State.
Michigan State men’s ice hockey senior left wing Jagger Joshua is speaking out today regarding an incident between him and an Ohio State player on Nov. 11. Joshua claims that the OSU player used racial slurs toward him “multiple times.”
Acts of racism do not belong in hockey.. pic.twitter.com/nm9AnIjSgV— Jagger Joshua (@jaggerjoshua8) November 21, 2022
“Acts of racism do not belong in hockey, as they can discourage African Americans and minorities like myself from playing and loving the game,” Joshua’s statement reads. “Inaction in the face of racist comments and actions allow these behaviors to continue.”
Joshua says that an official overheard the racial slur and issued a game misconduct to the Ohio State player. During the matchup at Munn Ice Arena, OSU senior forward Kamil Sadlocha received a game misconduct at the 10:39 mark of the second period.
Joshua says there was an investigation from the Big Ten following the incident, but no further action has been taken.
“The inaction has left me feeling confused and pessimistic about the movement of diversity within hockey culture,” Joshua’s statement continues. “The ignorance of racism does not belong in our game, and I feel that I need to make people aware that this incident occurred because without acknowledgement, the problem gets worse.”
Joshua’s brother Dakota — now playing for the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL — was once teammates with Sadlocha in the 2018-2019 season when Dakota Joshua was a senior and Sadlocha was a freshman at Ohio State.
“Michigan State Athletics stands with Jagger Joshua, and commends him for having the courage to speak up against racial injustice,” a statement from Michigan State Athletic Director Alan Haller reads. “As a department, we are committed to providing opportunities for all student-athletes to compete in a space free from discrimination, racism or hate.”
Michigan State head coach Adam Nightingale also released a statement.
“At Michigan State, we are committed to a safe and welcoming space for our student-athletes,” Nightingale said. “It is important to me that all student athletes feel comfortable and supported in our locker room and in our program. I am proud to have Jagger Joshua on our team.”
Hockey is notorious for being unwelcome toward people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community, whether players or fans alike. A recent NHL report found that 84 percent of the industry workforce is white. A 2018 USA Today article claimed that 97 percent of the NHL is white. The Hockey Diversity Alliance aims to “change the face of hockey” and “eradicate systemic racism and intolerance” in the sport. Nashville’s Luke Prokop recently came out as the NHL’s first openly gay player.
The Only Colors has also reached out to the Big Ten and Ohio State for comment. We will update this story as it progresses.
Update: Ohio State’s statement can be found below.
The Ohio State Department of Athletics and the men’s hockey program worked collaboratively with the Big Ten Conference to come to a resolution in response to the allegation of misconduct toward the Big Ten sportsmanship policy.
Ohio State is focused on providing an inclusive and supportive environment for all. The department is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all. Our Buckeye Inclusion committee has done an outstanding job with providing education and awareness across our department, both for students and staff. We are committed to recognizing our remarkable diversity and utilizing our core values to ensure everyone attending or participating in an athletic event feels safe and welcome.
The Big Ten also released a statement, saying that it “collected and evaluated” information from the conference’s officiating crew, Michigan State players, Ohio State players and coaches, along with available video evidence and determined that no further action should be taken.
However, the Big Ten says it agrees with the officiating crew’s decision to issue the penalty.
“Due to the absence of indisputable evidence presented to the conference, the conference has not imposed further disciplinary action,” the Big Ten’s statement reads. “The Big Ten Conference is committed to providing our student-athletes inclusive environments free from acts of harassment or discrimination in any form.
“The safety and well-being of our campus communities remains our top priority.”
It is still unclear as to whether Sadlocha received any punishment from Ohio State. He did end up playing in both of Ohio State’s games against Notre Dame.
Update: Nov. 22 - Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith issues statement.
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith has issued an official statement, which can be read below. According to Smith, Sadlocha has departed the team and is not competing or practicing “at this time.” It remains unclear if this punishment is temporary while a larger investigation takes place.
We will continue to update this story as more news releases.
I want to offer my sincere and heartfelt apology to Jagger Joshua. On behalf of Ohio State University, I am so sorry.
No student or student-athlete should experience hatred or racism, and everyone should feel welcome. I have spoken with Michigan State Athletic Director Alan Haller, and I’m thankful Jagger is getting the support he needs.
Over the last week, the Department of Athletics has worked through this on-ice incident and spoken with Kamil Sadlocha and the rest of the team, and Kamil is returning home and will not practice or compete at this time.
I have met with the men’s hockey team and will be meeting with them again soon to discuss our values. The team will complete education on racial sensitivity, diversity, equity, inclusion and the use of respectful dialog. The department and I will support them through this important process.