On Saturday, Nov. 30, four Wake Forest men’s basketball student-athletes were allegedly involved in an incident during an off-day visit to Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif. while they were in the city for the Wooden Legacy Tournament.
This information was publicized after Disneyland cast member Kimberlee Gigliotti tweeted about the incident in the early morning of Dec. 1. In her tweets, she included screenshots of the email she had sent to a coach on the basketball team earlier, alerting them of the incident.
According to Gigliotti, one of the Wake Forest student-athletes used homophobic slurs toward another cast member, who was responsible for supervising the line for the Incredicoaster. Another student-athlete was also identified as showing behavior “beyond rude and disrespectful” to cast members.
“After being rude to every cast member they encountered at the attraction, one of these men decided to call a fellow cast member of mine a ‘f**king f****t’ all because the cast member caught them cutting and asked them to let the other people [get] in front of them,” Gigliotti wrote in an her email.
The email was presumably sent to Head Coach Danny Manning, as it referenced that the recipient of the email had been awarded the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award, which Manning was awarded in 2017.
Gigliotti did not respond to requests for comment.
About 15 minutes before their game against Arizona, Manning released a statement saying that two students would be suspended from the game for their alleged role in the incident. Student-athletes Michael Wynn and Jahcobi Neath were the two players benched during the game. The other two student-athletes who were reportedly present at the time of the incident have not yet been identified.
Following an investigation of the incident in collaboration with park officials, Wake Forest released a joint statement by Vice President of Campus Life Penny Rue, Athletic Director John Currie and Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer José Villalba on Wednesday night.
“Following a review of the incident that was completed with the cooperation of park officials, we have determined that there are significant discrepancies among individual perspectives of what transpired,” the statement reads. “The student-athletes have been very cooperative in clarifying their roles in the alleged incident, and they expressed genuine concern about how their actions were portrayed. We have concluded that the allegations on social media were not sufficiently supported by the available information.”
Neath and Wynn were subsequently returned to the roster and played in Wednesday night’s 76-54 loss to Penn State as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
In response to Gigliotti’s tweet about the incident, many Wake Forest alumni and students voiced their concerns on Twitter against the kind of inexcusable behavior reported and demanded that the university take action to address the issue.
However, the lack of witnesses and an official record of what happened makes it hard for Wake Forest to take any extensive approach with conflicting recounts of the incident.
“[The student-athletes] weren’t with their whole team. They weren’t on campus. It’s a lot harder to figure out what actually happened because the athletes didn’t tell their coaches [initially] about what happened and, to the best of the university’s knowledge, the workers didn’t tell their bosses what happened,” said sophomore Ally Swartzberg, the co-chair of Student Government’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. “So, there’s no recorded higher level of knowledge of what happened. It’s just pretty much somebody posted on Twitter that this thing happened, and the athletes are saying they didn’t do it. The university absolutely wants to hold the students responsible if that’s what happened. But they can’t [at the moment] determine what happened and to what level it happened.”