Derrick Gordon, who made headlines when he became the first openly gay Division 1 men’s basketball last year before his junior season at UMass, announced that he is transferring to Seton Hall.
Gordon reiterated that he left UMass for reasons related to his on-court role on the team. The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game last season.
“It really had nothing to do with my sexuality or anything like that,” he told USA Today. “Everything was great at UMass. There were no issues. We showered together and I don’t look at my teammates like that. … At the beginning, were they uncomfortable? Yeah. But they were real with me, expressed concern, and we dealt with it. That made us better friends, better teammates.”
However, when looking at transfer possibilities, Gordon said a number of schools made it clear they had no interest in him because of his sexual orientation.
“During the recruiting process, a number of schools didn’t want me because I’m gay,” he said. “To me, that’s blatant homophobia. At the end of the day, no coaches will ever admit that they don’t want me because I’m gay and there’s baggage that comes with the attention.
“Honestly, it caught me off guard. It really hurt. It had me stressed, crying. I was starting to lose hope. I felt like I was being treated like an outsider, like I didn’t belong in the NCAA. I couldn’t believe it because I’m a good player and they were looking at the opposite — something that doesn’t mean anything with my [sexuality]. … ‘Nah, not the gay guy.’ ”
Gordon, who played high school ball in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and started his college career at Western Kentucky, can play immediately at Seton Hall as a graduate transfer. He’ll help coach Kevin Willard replace leading scorer Sterling Gibbs, who transferred to UConn.
While he remains the only Division 1 player to publicly reveal his homosexuality, Gordon said he doesn’t expect to be alone much longer.
“It won’t be surprising if there are more players coming out very soon,” he said.