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Liberty brings back former football coach Turner Gill, ex-receiver, to help diversity efforts

Liberty brings back former football coach Turner Gill, ex-receiver, to help diversity efforts

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Liberty University is bringing back a pair of familiar football figures to help fortify diversity efforts at the Lynchburg school.

LU announced Tuesday the return of former Flames football coach Turner Gill and former football player Kelvin Edwards. Gill will serve as executive vice president of diversity, development and inclusion. Edwards’ title is executive vice president of management efficiencies and diversity.

The Flames’ football program lost multiple players to transfers during the offseason, and a women’s basketball player also transferred. That attrition came in the wake of Liberty President Jerry Falwell Jr. in early June issuing an apology for invoking Gov. Ralph Northam’s blackface scandal while attacking Virginia’s mask requirements. Black employees resigned from the Christian institution before the student-athletes’ transfers.

Two of the football transfers, each a Black man, cited racial insensitivity and cultural incompetence in the leadership of the university. One of those players is Kei’Trel Clark, who attended Manchester High School and started seven of Liberty’s final 10 games last season as a true freshman. He has transferred to Louisville.

Women’s basketball transfer Asia Todd, who is also Black, also noted racial insensitivity at Liberty in explaining her departure.

Gill coached the Flames during 2012-18 before retiring and previously led programs at Buffalo and Kansas. Gill had recently served as executive director of student-athlete and staff development at the University of Arkansas. Gill’s wife, Gayle, will also assist with Liberty’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

“President Jerry Falwell and I talked back in November about returning for a role in development,” Gill said in a school release. “We had been working out details, but I called him in June to see if we could change that to diversity and inclusion. I am thrilled to be returning and to serve in my new role.

“I have long shared a vision with President Falwell about increasing the minority population at Liberty and building a program where we build leaders among all racial groups. We want the future leaders in our country and internationally to be trained at a top-notch Christian university so that people are exposed to the Gospel, are educated with Christian values, and are living out their purpose according to God’s will.”

After graduating from Liberty in 1986, Edwards was selected in the fourth round of the 1986 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. The receiver played for the Dallas Cowboys during 1987-89. Edwards was inducted into the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

In the school release, Falwell said, “We are honored to have Turner Gill back at Liberty as well as Kelvin Edwards, an alumnus and successful businessman. As executive vice presidents, they will help us demonstrate our commitment to reuniting people — both Republicans and Democrats — who have been divided by the establishment politicians.”

joconnor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6233

@RTDjohnoconnor

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