Bryant assistant coach Chris Burns came out as gay Thursday in a first-person story on Outsports, becoming the first openly gay coach in Division I men's basketball.
USA Today also published a feature on Burns, which gives an inside look at his decision to come out.
Burns played for Bryant from 2003–2007 and is entering his third year as an assistant coach with the team.
In his Outsports story, Burns said he attended the Nike LGBT Sports Summit last year, which helped him understand “just how important being able to tell my story would be.” From his story:
There is no greater feeling than being a part of something bigger than just you. That's what has always made sports so special for me.
Since I started telling people in college basketball over the last few months, I've realized my fears were far worse than reality. I've realized that people, for the most part, are human beings first. For a guy who's relatively cynical and can be negative, the reactions of people in my sport and in my life have shut me right up and reenergized my hope in the human spirit, in empathy.
You've got to give the majority of people credit for changing attitudes and credit to all the people who have worked to make that possible. Things have gone fairly well for me so far.
According to USA Today, Burns came out to his family first and told Bulldogs head coach Tim O’Shea more than a year ago. Bryant senior forward Curtis Oakley told USA Today that there was an “initial shock factor” when Burns came out to the team, but then “everyone was, like, ‘Yo, Burns, we rockin’ with you.’ It was all love.”
“My message to him is, first off, congratulations, I'm very proud of you,” said Krzyzewski. “Next, please know you'll be accepted by your brothers in the sport of men's basketball. You're included now in a very strong way. I think this will be something coaches in our sport will love.”
In April 2014, former UMass guard Derrick Gordon became the first openly gay male college basketball player in D-I history. He has since transferred to Seton Hall.