DL who criticized Leach meme transferring to FSU

  • Senior college football writer
  • Author of seven books on college football
  • Graduate of the University of Georgia

Mississippi State defensive lineman Fabien Lovett, who entered the NCAA transfer portal after criticizing Bulldogs coach Mike Leach’s tweet that showed a meme of a woman knitting a noose for her husband during self-quarantine, announced Monday that he’s transferring to Florida State.

Lovett, a redshirt freshman from Olive Branch, Mississippi, will have three years of eligibility remaining. He is expected to apply for an NCAA waiver that would allow him to play for the Seminoles this season. If the waiver isn’t granted, he would have to sit out one season under NCAA transfer rules.

Lovett’s father, Abdual Lovett, previously told the Clarion-Ledger that he decided his son should leave the program. Fabien Lovett agreed with his father’s decision.

“I didn’t feel comfortable with my son being down there with a guy like that from a leadership standpoint — that you can just throw anything out there,” Abdual Lovett told the newspaper. “I feel if he can do it, the kids are going to feel like they can do it.”

Leach removed the tweet shortly after posting it and later apologized, writing on Twitter, “I sincerely regret if my choice of images in my tweets were found offensive. I had no intention of offending anyone.”

Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen issued a statement last week in which he indicated Leach would have future opportunities to “expand his cultural awareness of Mississippi.”

“No matter the context, for many Americans the image of a noose is never appropriate and that’s particularly true in the South and in Mississippi,” Cohen said in the statement. “Mississippi State University was disappointed in the use of such an image in a tweet by Coach Mike Leach.”

Cohen added that Leach will participate in “listening sessions” with students, alumni and community groups and will take guided visits to the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum once restrictions for the coronavirus pandemic are lifted.

Fabien Lovett recorded 19 tackles and one sack in 2019. He reportedly also considered Power Five programs such as Florida, Michigan, Oregon, Ole Miss and Tennessee before choosing FSU.

Lovett is the third FBS transfer to join first-year coach Mike Norvell’s program at Florida State. Defensive back Meiko Dotson, who tied for the FBS lead in interceptions last season with nine, will transfer from Florida Atlantic to FSU, he announced on social media Saturday night. Former Baylor defensive end Deonte Williams also announced last week that he’s transferring to FSU.

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