SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The entire Syracuse University community is grappling with a string of racist incidents on The Hill over the past week, and that includes the student-athletes.

A string of racist graffiti on and near campus rocked the SU and spurred a nearly week-long sit-in at The Barnes Center.

SU Athletics is very aware of what’s been happening on campus. The school’s Athletic Director talked with NewsChannel 9 Friday morning about how the student-athletes are handling this tumultuous week.

John Wildhack, Athletic Director at Syracuse University, said, “The actions that have occurred are deplorable and totally unacceptable, not only as an athletic director, but as a proud alum. I mean, this is an unbelievable place where young men and young women, from literally all over the world, come to study, come to grow and come to learn.”

Wildhack says diversity has been a staple with SU athletics for years.

“Syracuse Athletics was a leader in racial integration way before other schools were and that’s something that we’re proud about and that’s something that helps us set the tone and the culture for Syracuse Athletics,” he says.

Wildhack says as an athletic department, they’ve talked to their coaches about the incidents of racism and the protests happening on campus, then, in turn, those coaches have talked to their teams about it.

“I think it resonates with everybody that’s on campus. I mean, this is a serious issue. There’s no question about that. Our student-athletes, they’re more than just athletes, they’re students, they’re on campus and they go to class and they’re performing very well in the classroom, so their situational awareness is like that of any other student on this campus,” he adds.

There are just over 600 student-athletes this semester at SU, 100 of them from 33 countries around. The American student-athletes at SU come from 35 states and the District of Columbia.

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