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Sept. 19, 2001

Charlottesville, Va. – Statement from Al Groh, University of Virginia football coach, in response to remarks he made earlier today.

Earlier today, I made a comment during the ACC’s weekly coaches’ teleconference that has been poorly received within the University and elsewhere. I am sorry if my remarks were insensitive. Like many American citizens, my emotions are near the surface after last week’s tragedy, especially since 70 people in the town I lived in for four years, some of whom I know, are missing.

I certainly did not mean to insinuate that millions of sensitive, God-fearing people of Arabic descent are terrorists. I hope we can all focus on the significant issues of recovery and the future of our country. That is done through unity and not divisiveness. That, and coaching my team, will be my focus.

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Statement from University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III in response to remarks made today by Al Groh, U.Va. football coach.

Coach Al Groh is quoted as having made a comment insulting to Arab people in an unrehearsed conversation with reporters today. I have seen Coach Groh’s expression of regret for the remark. I take his apology seriously, and I hope that others will also. The remark appears to have been made in passing and probably not after much forethought in the course of questions about other matters — about football, travel plans, and the condition of the team and the program.

Although I know how hard it can be to forgive even a passing remark that seems to place blame unfairly or to separate out one group of us as enemies of others, I ask that we do that. Categorical or ethnic hostility toward others is contrary to the University’s core values just as it is to Coach Groh’s. It is contrary also to President Bush’s appeals during the last week for reason and mutual respect among us.

Just as the U.S. is an inclusive nation, the University is and means to be an inclusive community, open to women and men of talent and good will from all backgrounds and cultures and traditions. Let’s move beyond this issue and concentrate on activities that draw us together.

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Statement from Craig Littlepage, University of Virginia director of athletics in response to remarks made today by Al Groh, U.Va. football coach.

In the past week, there have been many calls for cooperation and coming together within our country. Here in Charlottesville and at the University we have mourned as one, bridging our diverse backgrounds and cultures. This is no time to inflame emotions. Unfortunately, Coach Groh’s remark earlier today has had that unintended effect. The Athletics Department regrets any hurt the statement may have caused.

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