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AP photo by Rogelio V. Solis / Mike Leach speaks during a news conference introducing him as Mississippi State's new football coach on Jan. 10 in Starkville. The 59-year-old Leach, known for being outspoken, quirky and sometimes outrageous during interviews and on Twitter, has apologized for sharing a tweet that included a depiction of a noose.

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach has apologized via social media for a Twitter post that drew criticism from some of his players and an assistant professor at the school before it was deleted.

On Wednesday night, the outspoken coach tweeted a picture depicting an elderly woman knitting, reported the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi. The caption read: "After 2 weeks of quarantine with her husband, Gertrude decided to knit him a scarf ", but the picture showed her knitting a noose with the hangman's knot already tied, the newspaper reported.

Leach's tweet had more than 4,000 likes Thursday morning, the newspaper said. But several Mississippi State players responded to the post with face-palm and raised-eyebrow emojis and a profane acronym, the newspaper reported. Assistant sociology professor and author Margaret A. Hagerman chastised Leach and wrote that lynching jokes are incredibly offensive anywhere and "especially in Mississippi."

Leach deleted the tweet sometime Thursday morning, according to the newspaper. He apologized in a post that read: "I sincerely regret if my choice of images in my tweets were found offensive. I had no intention of offending anyone."

The 59-year-old Leach was hired in January to replace Joe Moorhead after coaching at Washington State for eight seasons. Before that, Leach coached Texas Tech from 2000 to 2009.

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