TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – After Florida State University lost to the Florida Gators on Saturday, a racist post depicting FSU head football coach Willie Taggart at the end of a rope with the hashtag “FIRETAGGERT” has gotten an FSU alum fired from his job and sparked a criminal investigation.
The post first appeared following FSU’s stunning 41-14 loss to arch rival Florida.
It shows Taggart superimposed on a black man hanging from a tree.
FSU President John Thrasher condemned the post.
“I love Willie Taggart,” said Thrasher. “And we’re going to make sure we wrap our arms around him and make sure he understands we care about him at Florida State University.”
State Attorney Jack Campbell opened an investigation shortly after the post appeared, but it’s not clear if the post rises to the level of a criminal act.
“We’re having to take a hard look at that right now,” said Campbell. “Right now it’s an active criminal investigation.”
Both Florida State Police and the Leon County Sheriff’s Officer are also investigating.
“Coach Taggart is a husband, a father. He deserves the protections of the full force of this office,” said Campbell.
Students on campus who had not seen the post were stunned.
“Really disturbing to see that,” said FSU Junior Andrew Cog.
“Atrocious and very racist,” said Nicole Knight, a senior at the university.
When asked how he’d feel if a similar threat was made towards him, FSU senior Ilani Fernandes said, “I’d be very offended and I would want somebody to do something about it.”
We reached out to Coach Taggart but we were told he wouldn’t be doing any interviews.
By losing Saturday, FSU broke a 36 year streak of bowl game appearances.
While condemning the post, Thrasher called for leniency.
“You know, I don’t want him punished in some ways, but he really made a really serious mistake, and he needs to understand that,” said Thrasher.
The man behind the post was fired from his job with a major hotel chain Monday.
The post also ended any questions about Taggart’s future after a disappointing first season.
President John Thrasher says the coach will absolutely be back next season.