NEW YORK — Columbia University's athletic program found itself in another controversy Wednesday after a standout soccer player used the school's annual athletic awards dinner to criticize blacks, Jews and homosexuals.
Chris Ziade, co-captain of the soccer team, gave the controversial speech on the Columbia campus Monday evening. According to Columbia Athletic Director Al Paul, Ziade began by saying, "I'm going to offend a lot of people--Jews, blacks, women, gays and lesbians."
Ziade, a 21-year-old senior, then criticized the administration for being overly Jewish and being overly sympathetic to homosexual and Jewish groups, according to several people at the speech. Ziade, who was selected for the All-Ivy League second team, was born on the island of Jamaica and is black.
Columbia's athletic program has been in near-constant controversy the past decade. The football team was 7-90-2 in the 1980s, went through four coaches and received a variance from the Ivy League to lower admissions standards. The basketball team had only one winning season in the decade.
"The first problem we have is with the administration and the lack of school spirit. The administration is 50% Jewish," Ziade was quoted as saying by fencer David Mandell, who later walked out on the speech.
According to Mandell, Ziade said, "I personally do not want to have anything to do with Jews because they are not followers of Christ."
On Wednesday, Ziade denied making those two remarks.
"It's a total misquote," he said. "I never said anything remotely similar to that." But Ziade later confirmed, "I did say it seems to me that the administration is 50% Jewish."
Paul said any disciplinary actions would be taken by the Columbia deans' office.