GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) A Colorado Mesa University assistant baseball coach apologized Thursday for using what an investigation concluded was an anti-gay remark in front of a gay player who said he eventually left the game because of homophobia.
At a news conference organized by the school, Sean McKinney issued his apology about a remark he made about the 1998 murder of Matthew Shephard in Wyoming in front of players, including Tyler Dunnington.
''That is not who I am as a person, and I would never intentionally hurt anyone,'' said McKinney, who also said he called Dunnington to apologize.
Dunnington, a pitcher, was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014 but retired a year ago before spring training. Last week Outsports.com wrote about the 24-year-old's decision to give up baseball and reported that a comment from an unnamed college coach that ''we kill gay people in Wyoming'' lingered with him the longest of the remarks he heard over his career.
The March 16 story prompted Colorado Mesa to hire a law firm to investigate. The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction (http://bit.ly/1RB6Ymx), which obtained a copy of the investigation report, reported that McKinney told investigators that he said something similar to what Dunnington alleged but was certain he did not use the word ''we.''
Dunnington was not interviewed by investigators. According to the report, he spoke with Colorado Mesa's vice president for student affairs, John Marshall, after the Outsports story but did not want to identify who made the remark.
The investigation concluded the remark was a ''poor attempt at a humorous comeback about (McKinney's) home state'' and recommended that McKinney be disciplined or undergo training rather than lose his job.
University President Tim Foster said McKinney would not be fired.
''Rather than shying away from (his comment), he owned up to it and took it on directly, realizing that ... it could cost him his job and certainly his reputation in the community,'' he said.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told The Associated Press last week that he's ''very disappointed'' to learn about Dunnington's experience, adding that ''our hope is that every player, staff member and employee feels they are treated equally and fairly. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said he had been told about the allegations and that the team would ''try to figure out ways so they can have an atmosphere where they can be as good as they can be.''