DeBerry Apologizes; Reprimanded For Comments

Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry has been reprimanded by the school's top commander for making statements about black athletes and recruiting. And DeBerry has issued a public apology.

The 22-year Falcons coach says he realizes his comments might have been hurtful to many people, and he says he never intended to offend anybody.

The controversy started Monday, while DeBerry was discussing Air Force's 48-ten loss to Texas Christian. The coach told The Gazette of Colorado Springs that the academy needed to recruit faster players, and said that his program doesn't have many minority players. When he was asked about it yesterday, DeBerry said T-C-U has more black players than the Falcons, and he said -- quote -- "African-Americans can run very well."

Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh says he talked with DeBerry this morning and told him the comments were inappropriate. DeBerry also was reprimanded by new superintendent Lieutenant General John Regni.

Mueh says DeBerry will keep his job until he loses confidence in the coach's ability to -- in his words -- produce leaders for the Air Force and the nation.

Here is the full text of Deberry's statement:

"Today it is my desire to make a public apology for remarks I made recently about minority recruitment. I realize that the things I said were hurtful to many people and I want everyone to understand that I never intended to offend anyone. Gazette columnist Milo Bryant was right today when he said that I should have never said what I did.

I have made a mistake and I ask for everyone's forgiveness. I regret these statements and I sincerely hope they will not reflect negatively towards the Academy or our coaches and players. I thank the administration for the opportunity to make this apology."
----Fisher DeBerry