Less than a year after former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam came out as gay and later became the first openly gay athlete to be selected in the NFL Draft, another milestone has been broken.
Chip Sarafin, a fifth-year ASU offensive lineman, became the first active openly gay player in Division I college football after coming out in a recent interview with Compete Magazine.
Sarafin, a former walk-on and practice squad participant from Gilbert, said he came out to his teammates last spring.
“It was really personal to me, and it benefitted my piece of mind greatly,” he said in the interview.
Following the release of the article, which came after ASU’s opening practice at Camp Tontozona on Wednesday, both head coach Todd Graham and Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson released statements on Sarafin’s coming out:
“We are a brotherhood that is not defined by cultural and personal differences, but rather an individual’s commitment to the Sun Devil Way,” Graham said. “Chip is a fifth-year senior and a Scholar Baller, a graduate and master’s student. His commitment to service is unmatched and it is clear he is on his way to leading a successful life after his playing career, a goal that I have for every student-athlete. Diversity and acceptance are two of the pillars of our program, and he has full support from his teammates and the coaching staff.”
“The entire athletics department is extremely proud of Chip and is unequivocally supportive of him,” Anderson said. “His undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering, his pursuit of a master’s in the same field, his research involving football-related concussions, and his heavy involvement in the community with both youth sports in Arizona and the Tillman Scholars embodies all the characteristics that sets our student-athletes apart and allows our university to maintain an environment of inclusiveness and progression.”
Graham said in his statement that Sarafin, a biomedical engineering major, was a “Scholar Baller,” an honor that he reserves for athletes who excel on the field and in the classroom. Sarafin is also a Tillman Scholar, and has played a major role in helping Phoenix’s youth to learn sports.
He has yet to ever play a down for the Sun Devils, but has been a recognized member on ASU’s scout team and has received honors for his commitment during the team’s strength and conditioning program.
Sam, who did not come out until after his senior year at Missouri and is currently trying to latch on with the St. Louis Rams, tweeted out his support to Sarafin.
Congratulations Chip Sarafin for having the courage to be yourself. Wishing you and your teammates much success this season. #courage2014
— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) August 13, 2014
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