State Colleges

Last Chance U coach resigns after allegedly texting ‘I’m your new Hitler’ to player

Independence Community College football coach Jason Brown, featured in the popular Netflix documentary “Last Chance U,” announced his resignation on his Twitter account late Sunday evening.

The decision comes days after text messages Brown allegedly sent a German player on his team were publicized last Thursday by the Montgomery County Chronicle, including one in which Brown allegedly told Alexandros Alexiou, a redshirt freshman from Dortmund, Germany, that “I’m your new Hitler.”

The report triggered the Independence Board of Trustees to call a special meeting on Thursday. The Montgomery Country Chronicle reported the board decided to take no action with Brown after meeting for three hours.

In his Twitter post, Brown recounted the successes of his three-year tenure, thanked his players and coaches, and blamed the local weekly newspaper. Nowhere did he acknowledge Alexiou’s allegations.

“Given what has most recently been allowed to transpire, it is clear, that it will be nearly impossible to stay here,” Brown wrote. “More plainly, the Montgomery County Chronicle has greatly diminished my ability to successfully do my job, and has set this football program back significantly, and the cumulative effect of all these detrimental factors I believe clearly constitute a constructive discharge of my employment. I have been working with the college to achieve greatness for 3.5 years, and I believe we accomplished this. I urge all the naysayers on campus and in town to really look at yourself in the mirror and do a self-evaluation of yourself before so harshly judging others.”

Independence garnered national attention when “Last Chance U” showcased Brown and his brash and sometimes controversial coaching style on the show’s third season.

The cameras captured Brown screaming and cussing to his players and coaches, but also winning. Independence finished the 2018 season with a program-best 9-2 record, its first Jayhawk Conference championship since 1977 and its first bowl victory in program history.

Brown’s methods sparked a social-media debate on if they were worth the price of success. Independence had won a total of 14 games in the decade before Brown, who finished with a 16-15 record in three years.

“These accomplishments were only made possible through the hard work and perseverance of a group of dedicated players and coaches that bought into a common goal, took tremendous pride in representing Independence, and loved ‘DREAMU,’” Brown wrote.

“I can sleep at night knowing I led with my best foot forward and graduated our players! I don’t care about anything else! We turned boys into men and made them better human beings.”

After the Netflix documentary series debuted, there was a strong initial reaction to Brown. Many found his coaching style over-the-top, but there were also those who defended the coach.

There was more pushback Thursday, when Alexiou provided a screenshot of text messages he claimed were from Brown.

In the screenshot, Brown allegedly referred to Alexiou as “u German (expletive)“ and informed the player he was being cut from the team and that his scholarship was being revoked. It has since been reported that Alexiou has learned his scholarship has not been revoked.

Alexiou told the Montgomery County Chronicle that he had been suspended by Brown the prior week for several violations of team policy. Brown had instituted a disciplinary points program that assigns points to players for violating team conduct rules, such as being late for a meeting or practice or instigating a fight. According to Alexiou, players who receive a total of 25 disciplinary points are removed from the team.

Alexiou told the newspaper he filed a discrimination report through the athletic department and met with Independence athletic director Tammie Geldenhuys, who according to Alexiou, told him to calm down and try visiting with the coaching staff again in a few days.

Following that meeting, on the afternoon of Feb. 12, the screenshot Alexiou provided the newspaper showed Brown texted Alexiou to inform him he had 18 disciplinary points after not following instructions to hang a poster. That’s when Brown allegedly texted, “I’m your new Hitler figure out your life.”

After Alexiou texted back to ask why he had so many disciplinary points, Brown allegedly responded with “cuz I said quit being disobedient” then followed with “You are now cut from the team go yell somewhere else dont come around anymore u obviously have issues and now wont be a part of this program disturbing dorms and classes and teachers and basketball coaches and every other thing good luck alex.”

“I don’t think it’s right,” Alexious told the newspaper. “I know I did some stupid things to get suspended, but there are a lot of other incidents on the team that do not get reported.”

Independence president Dan Barwick issued a statement following the incident.

“Independence Community College does not condone the language Coach Brown used in his message,” Barwick said last Thursday. “I have spoken with Coach Brown about his message to the student, and he fully understands that his language was not appropriate.”

It is not immediately clear if Brown plans to continue coaching college football. Netflix was filming in Independence again this past season.

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