Emcee kicked off the tennis team for offensive remarks

By Rachel Rippetoe | April 16, 2018 2:23pm

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Goutham Sundaram hosted the fifth annual Wally Awards Sunday night. Photo courtesy of the Portland Pilots Twitter page.

Tennis player Goutham Sundaram, the controversial emcee of Sunday night's athlete banquet known as the Wally Awards, has been removed from the tennis roster. 

In front of dozens of University of Portland athletes, coaches and University officials, including University President Fr. Mark Poorman, Sundaram took to the stage and made sexual and racial references that marred the event for many attendees, some of whom walked out. Head basketball coach and former Trail Blazer Terry Porter and both of his sons were among those who walked out of the event. 

Shortly after 1:30 p.m. Monday, Poorman released a statement saying he was appalled by the student's actions. The statement said, "These offensive statements do not reflect us, and they do not reflect our mission."

Poorman sat in the front table of the event, and many commenters on social media criticized his inaction during the banquet. The statement said, "As president of the University, I remained at the event to honor those who gathered to celebrate student athletes, teams, and Athletics staff for their many accomplishments in the past year.  This important tradition was the purpose of the evening, and I did not want what happened on stage to take away from the recognition of others in attendance."

Earlier in the day, Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Karen Peters sent out an email to student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff, attaching a three-sentence apology from Sundaram. 

"I would like to address what happened at the Wally’s last night," Sundaram said. "I want to apologize for taking away from the focus of the night. The night is meant to celebrate the excellence of student athletes and I would like to apologize if I made any people uncomfortable.”

It is not clear what Sundaram's dismissal means, given that he is a senior and this year's season is over. Poorman's statement said he expected additional steps will be taken to address the student-athlete's conduct and any impact that his comments may have had. 

This is a developing story that The Beacon will continue to cover.


Read Poorman's full statement below:

Dear Members of the UP Community,

Last night I attended the “Wally’s,” an awards banquet organized and run by student members of an advisory committee to athletics.

Unfortunately, the celebration was marred by shocking and offensive comments made by a student who was emceeing the event.  Along with many others, I am appalled by the student’s actions. These offensive statements do not reflect us, and they do not reflect our mission.  As president of the University, I remained at the event to honor those who gathered to celebrate student athletes, teams, and Athletics staff for their many accomplishments in the past year.  This important tradition was the purpose of the evening, and I did not want what happened on stage to take away from the recognition of others in attendance.

I apologize to all of you that this occurred. Clearly we have continuing work to do to educate and raise consciousness.  I spoke with Athletics this morning. They have already taken steps to hold this student accountable, including removing him from the roster.  I expect additional steps will be taken to address the conduct and any impact.

There is no place at the University of Portland for what was said.  It wasn’t funny, and it is completely inconsistent with the important dialogues that continue on our campus.  Verbal or physical, it is still abuse.

Sincerely,

Fr. Mark

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