Player tweets 'disappoint' Columbia

NEW YORK -- Two days after a Columbia football player was arrested and charged with a hate crime, the university's football program is embroiled in further controversy because of reported racist and homophobic tweets sent by several players on the team.

Defensive lineman Chad Washington was arraigned Wednesday on a charge of aggravated harassment in the second degree stemming from an incident that occurred on campus early Sunday morning. Washington is accused of getting into a physical confrontation with an Asian student and using several anti-Asian slurs.

Now Columbia's student-run radio station, WKCR, has published a photo gallery featuring screenshots of 46 offensive tweets reportedly issued from the Twitter accounts of several Columbia football players.

The tweets, from 10 accounts, feature anti-gay, anti-Asian and anti-Semitic language. Most of those accounts are either locked or have been deleted.

Athletic director M. Dianne Murphy and football coach Pete Mangurian issued a statement Thursday afternoon, offering "sincere apologies to members of the greater Columbia community."

"Our athletics program is greatly disappointed by the language and sentiment expressed online by a select few Columbia student-athletes," the statement reads, in part. "These comments are not representative of the more than 700 Columbia undergraduate students who participate in our athletics program, or the coaches, administrators and staff who serve the University and our campus community.

"We are addressing this inexcusable behavior with the individuals involved. We will also address this with each of our 31 varsity teams."

Earlier in the day, the university issued a letter to its student body, co-signed by the deans of Columbia College, the engineering school, the school of general studies and Murphy.

"As educators and leaders of a diverse learning community, we are deeply concerned when racism, sexism, homophobia and incivility -- whether in words, actions or posts of any kind -- target individuals or groups," the letter began.

As for the Washington arrest, the deans and Murphy said an investigation is underway:

"We ask that you respect the privacy of all individuals involved and allow us to investigate thoroughly and act according to our protocols and procedures. Speculation based on limited or inaccurate information reported in the press, or anonymous rumor, serves no one well and is detrimental to the wellbeing of those involved as well as to our community as a whole."

A university spokesman said the school has no additional comment or information at this time.