Alumnus Brett Major still remembers the “More Than Words” presentation TCU holds at every Frog Camp, that’s where he learned that discrimination of any type shouldn’t be tolerated.
He also recalls being 11 years old and being led to Christianity by Nebraska University Assistant Football Coach Ron Brown. The memories collided several weeks ago when Major learned of Brown’s opposition to a recently approved gay and transgender ordinance in Omaha, Neb.
Major who told his close friends and family that he is gay, was so annoyed with Brown’s vitriol that he wrote to ESPN’s Rick Reilly and asked the sports writer to address the “bleak” environment for gay athletes in NCAA sports.
“It's an opportunity to tell them that they DO matter, that we support their hard work, and that we want them to be able to celebrate who they are as a person in the same way they celebrate a win,” Major wrote to Reilly.
Reilly agreed. And earlier this month he wrote about Brown and called Major his ‘top recruit,’ explaining that Brown led Major to Christianity during a youth group presentation.
“Apparently, [Brown] can spew whatever bigoted, hateful, un-Christian message he wants, without risk of losing his job,” Reilly wrote in his article. “He should retire from football and campaign full-time for our right to fire each other purely for being gay.”
Reilly’s column prompted friends, family and strangers to reach out to Major giving him support and appreciation for speaking out. Major said the best part of the entire experience was finding out there is more support available than he realized. “I knew that it was going to be potentially uncomfortable having all of this out on the Internet but there was a greater good and so much to gain from it,” Major said. “I knew it’d be worth it.”
"Ron Brown can think whatever he wants," Major told Reilly. "I just don't want him to put up barriers in my life. Just allow me to get a job I deserve. Just don't get me fired. I don't have to report to Ron Brown at the pearly gates."
While at TCU, Major was an Orientation Student Assistant, Frog Camp facilitator, SGA Vice President and part of the John V. Roach Honors College.
“He was highly involved in and out of the classroom, showed care and concern for all of those around him, and pushed himself to make a difference in our community,” Director of Student Development Services Robin Williamson wrote in an email.
Major had an uncanny ability to detect what students needed, thinking about, and addressed them from start to finish, SGA adviser Kim Turner said.
Major said he is proud that his alma mater takes such an active stance on discrimination starting at one of freshmen’s first interaction with the university, Frog Camp. During “More Than Words,” students read aloud hate speech-filled scenarios about issues like gender, race and orientation.
“People like Ron Brown need to know that their words have implications,” Major wrote to Reilly. “As an openly gay, twenty-something, Husker fan from Nebraska, I know what it's like to be a gay, young person in a red state (Husker red, perhaps) and people like Ron Brown don't make life any easier.”