UTC assistant football coach no longer with program after racially charged tweet

Offensive line coach Chris Malone instructs his men Wednesday at Scrappy Moore Field.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga offensive line coach Chris Malone has stepped down under pressure after he posted a tweet attacking Georgia voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.

Malone posted the tweet late Tuesday night and it gained attention throughout the day Wednesday, sparking a firestorm after reaching the national media Wednesday night. He has since deleted his Twitter account.

"Last night, a totally inappropriate social media post by a member of our football staff was brought to my attention," UTC athletic director Mark Wharton said in a statement on Thursday. "The entire post was appalling. The sentiments in that post do not represent the values of our football program, our athletics department or our university. With that said, effective immediately, that individual is no longer a part of the program."

Late Tuesday night, Malone tweeted, "Congratulations to the state GA and Fat Albert @staceyabrams because you have truly shown America the true works of cheating in an election, again!!! Enjoy the buffet Big Girl!! You earned it!!! Hope the money is good, still not governor!"

Abrams ran for governor in 2018, losing to Republican Brian Kemp. Her strong showing in a state considered staunchly Republican stoked optimism among Democrats, and has since been credited with starting a "blue wave" that crested this year.

The state was won by Joe Biden in the presidential election on Nov. 3, the first Democrat to do so in 28 years. This week, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff elections.

Abrams is receiving much of the credit for the recent Democratic victories in Georgia because of her efforts to increase turnout, especially among black voters.

Malone did not respond to a request for comment. He was entering the second season of his second stint as offensive line coach for the Mocs, having previously coached at UTC in 2014 and 2015. He had prior stops at Massachusetts (2001-04), Virginia Military Institute (2005), James Madison (2006-12), Virginia State (2013) and Old Dominion (2016-18) before coming back to Chattanooga to coach under Rusty Wright.

"Our football program has a clear set of standards," Wright said. "Those standards include respecting others. It is a message our players hear daily. It is a standard I will not waver on. What was posted on social media by a member of my staff is unacceptable and not any part of what I stand for or what Chattanooga Football stands for.

"Life is bigger than football and as leaders of young men, we have to set that example, first and foremost. With that said, effectively immediately, that individual is no longer a part of my staff."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.