Arizona State football player Chip Sarafin revealed in a just-published magazine article that he is gay, becoming the first active Division I college football player to publicly acknowledge his sexuality.
Thus, Todd Graham became the first D-I head coach to be faced with dealing with the hot-potato issue. He handled it with appropriate professionalism, but kept his response low-key.
Graham, who is getting ready to begin his third season in charge of the Sun Devil program, said in a statement issued by the ASU Athletic Department that he and his coaching staff are standing behind their six-foot-six-inch, 320-pound offensive lineman.
“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 offered. “Chip is a fifth-year senior and Scholar Baller, a graduate and a 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 coaching staff.”
Graham’s boss was a little more enthusiastic in defining the school’s stance. Vice President of Athletics Ray Anderson added that “The entire athletics department is extremely proud of Chip and is unequivocally supportive of him.”
Both Graham and Anderson apparently had time to prepare for this moment. Sarafin, who made the revelation in an off-the-cuff comment during an interview for Phoenix-based Compete Magazine, had evidently come out with his teammates as early as some time last season and also reportedly had informed the coaching staff.
The public outing of Sarafin on Wednesday comes just six months after Michael Sam made a similar revelation after his graduation from Missouri, where he was a defensive lineman, making him the first openly-gay player to be drafted by the NFL (St. Louis Rams).
Edward “Chip” Sarafin is a spring graduate who is continuing on at ASU to follow up his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering with a master’s degree. He is a graduate of Highland High School in Gilbert.
This imposing figure of a man may someday become well known for his work in the field of medicine. He is a top scholar (4.0 GPA) who has been involved in research related to concussions and is working on a football helmet design that would be safer for kids. He is also active with the Pat Tillman Foundation.
But it’s not likely much athletic acclaim will follow, based on his college football career. Sarafin has spent his career at ASU as a reserve player, toiling on the scout teams year after year, and has yet to see any actual game time. An impressive dedication to the sport and his school, but not the kind of resume that offers any promise in the NFL draft.
However, he is getting what Andy Warhol famously referred to as his “15 minutes of fame”…regardless of whether he wants it.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)