Skip to main content

BREAKING: Utah's Morgan Scalley will stay as Defensive Coordinator

Following the conclusion of the investigation by Husch Blackwell, Utah announces that defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley will remain in his role, but not without consequences

Morgan Scalley isn't going anywhere.

Following stunning allegations just under a month ago that Scalley, Utah's defensive coordinator, used a racial slur in a text message exchange with a recruit back in 2013, he was suspended indefinitely by Utah athletic director Mark Harlan pending the outcome of a private investigation.

An investigation by Kansas City law firm Husch Blackwell has officially come to an end as Harlan and head coach Kyle Whittingham announced that Scalley would be staying in his role for the upcoming season.

Apart from being retained on staff, there are consequences that have been laid out for Scalley, which ultimately aren't very severe. They are listed below...

1) Coach Scalley will engage with leadership of the University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team, including Vice President Mary Ann Villarreal. He will participate in regular and on- going diversity and inclusion education, and will be expected to be a key partner in addressing issues of racism and bias in the Utah Athletics Department, the University and the broader community.
2) In December 2019, the University and Coach Scalley verbally agreed to a multi-year extension of his contract, increasing his annual compensation to $1.1 million. Instead, his new contract will revert to his 2018 compensation level in the form of a one-year term for $525,000.
3) In December 2019, Director of Athletics Mark Harlan extended a verbal offer to Coach Scalley to become the Head Coach In-Waiting, which Harlan has now rescinded. 

1a.) Scalley was already one of the most outspoken members of the Utah athletic department regarding the George Floyd murder and the BLM movement, so being a key partner in addressing issues of racism and bias in the Utah Athletics Department, the University and the broader community will be no issue. 
1b.) Scalley will be losing his multi-year extension money for the upcoming season, not a significant loss considering he was expected to be earning $1.1 million for the 2021 season. But his new 1-year contract leaves him available for an extension or restructuring next season, so there's a lot that can happen in that time period.
1c.) While the head coach in-waiting verbage is no longer part of his contract, it's hard to imagine Utah moving past Scalley should the head coach position become available.

In a letter from Harlan and Whittingham sent out to media, they both acknowledge the completion of the investigation and said, "We have thoroughly evaluated all of the information available to us to determine the most appropriate conclusion and path forward. The racist language used by Coach Scalley is inexcusable and harmful to all, particularly to those communities identified in the report. We believe, and expect, that he will learn and lead, while owning his past conduct, to rebuild trust, reconcile harm caused and make a positive impact on the lives of student-athletes."


Also, $100,000 that was previously going to be used as a part of Scalley's raise will now be redirected to "enhance programming and staffing support" for Utah athletic department's U.T.A.H. Group (United Together Against Hate), a student-athlete forum that was launched in early 2019. 

When the allegations first surfaced, Scalley openly acknowledged the use of the word, admitting he “made a terrible mistake.” He also said that immediately following his use of the racial slur, he immediately reached out to the recruit and his family to offer his apologies for his mistake.

Currentformer player react to Utah DC Morgan Scalley news

In a statement made after the allegations surfaced, Scalley said...

"In 2013 I made a terrible mistake. I used a racial slur in a text message. This language is offensive and hurtful to not only the African-American community, but to all. Immediately after sending it, I apologized to the recipient and his family.

I am also heartbroken over the potential breach of trust with my fellow coaches, and with the young men in our program, both past and present.

I am truly sorry, and I own up to the hurtful effects of my choice. Through my actions and words going forward, I will demonstrate that my use of that slur in 2013 does not reflect or define who I am or what I stand for. My action is indefensible and I will use my voice and position to bring about meaningful and much-needed change.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

I accept the University’s suspension, and will use it as a time to reflect on my insensitive comment from 2013 and how I intend to listen and grow from this situation. I am completely against racism, and this will never happen again."

Other findings in the independent investigation include most of the coaches and players being "shocked" regarding the initial use of the racial slur, that Scalley had a positive relationship with most of the student-athletes and that his coaching style can be looked at as "intimidating and intense."

Screenshot of Husch Blackwell independent investigation report

Screenshot of Husch Blackwell independent investigation report

Screenshot of Husch Blackwell independent investigation report

Screenshot of Husch Blackwell independent investigation report

Screenshot of Husch Blackwell independent investigation report

Screenshot of Husch Blackwell independent investigation report

According to the report, both Harlan and Whittingham consulted with Utah's Leadership Council, a 13-player committee that leads the team. They also met with the team itself to further understand their expectations and emotions on the matter, coming to the conclusion that they wanted Scalley to stay with the program.

"In addition to the information provided in the report, we have engaged in multiple conversations with student-athletes in the football program to listen and to understand their perspectives as we have worked through this process," Harlan and Whittingham wrote in the letter. "That included an in-depth conversation with the 13-member Leadership Council, a diverse group of student-athletes from the team’s various classes, as well as a meeting with the entire team in which we presented the serious and significant findings of the report. These conversations were insightful and candid, which provided an even deeper level of understanding of the range of emotions our student-athletes are feeling. They communicated to us their concerns and expectations, as well as their strong support for Coach Scalley to remain on the staff." 

When news first broke about the allegations, multiple Utah players and those associated with Scalley came to his aid. They took to social media to voice their support for the man who has changed most of their lives, none more than former Utes and current 2020 NFL-draftees Terrell Burgess and Julian Blackmon.

Screen Shot 2020-06-08 at 3.37.06 PM
Screen Shot 2020-06-08 at 3.37.16 PM

Former Utah punter Tom Hackett, one of the most respected Utes in the state who's still around the program a lot, took a unique perspective about the Scalley situation. He says that while a lot of the fan base loves Scalley, they only see the surface love and that there are quite a few others who can not stand the man.

Scalley has been a member of Utah's football staff for the past 13 years, including the last five as defensive coordinator. He was also on a short list of coordinator candidates who should be the next wave of head coaches as he's lauded in football circles for his defensive gameplans and leadership abilities.

Previously, there were going to be major factors regarding the findings of the investigation and what Whittingham and Harlan elected to do with Scalley. The precedent that was just set by Whittingham and Harlan will sure to have a ripple effect on the rest of the country.

Want to share opinions or ask questions? We want to hear them! Making a profile is free and it only takes ~1 minute to set up. Also, be sure to like us on social media for future coverage:

Twitter — @UtahUtes_SI and Ryan Kostecka at @Ryan_Kostecka