2001 Mark Richt “immediately appointed his brother-in-law, Kevin Hynes, as UGA’s chaplain.” “Our message at Georgia doesn’t change, and that’s to preach Christ and Him crucified, it’s to win championships for the state of Georgia and win souls for the Kingdom of God, so we’re going to continue down that path.” “There’s something besides winning that’s important here.”


“Public university football coaches are government
employees. As representatives of the government,
coaches may not use that governmental position to
promote or advance their personal religion, or even
participate in student initiated religious activity.”

“As university employees and state representatives, coach
conduct is governed by the separation of state and church (the
Establishment Clause of the First Amendment). In other
words, when they are acting as coaches—i.e., at the university
or interacting with players—they cannot encourage, endorse,
or otherwise promote their personal religion. When they are
acting as private individuals—i.e., at home with family—they
are free to preach and pray as much as they want.”

“When coaches hire or coordinate hiring “volunteer”
chaplains, and then give these chaplains unfettered access
to a captive audience of football players and assistant
football coaches, they illegally sponsor religion and the
chaplain’s religious message. The Supreme Court has
explained that “school sponsorship of a religious message
is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to
members of the audience who are non-adherents ‘that they are
outsiders, not full members of the political community and
accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders,
favored members of the political community.’ ”A state
school and its representatives, while acting in their official
capacities, must remain neutral on religious matters.”

“By doing otherwise, they are abusing their governmental
office for personal religious ends. Simply, public university
football coaches cannot appoint or employ a chaplain or
agree to coordinate with a “volunteer” chaplain because
public universities may not advance or promote religion.”

“University liability”

“The benefits that public universities bestow on Christian
chaplains such as salaries, offices in the stadium, and
per diem and travel with the team, show that not
only is the coach advancing his own religious agenda,
but that the universities also favor Christianity.
Direct payments and other valuable benefits granted
for a religious position at a public school are blatantly
unconstitutional. According to the Supreme Court,
the First Amendment dictates that public schools
may not “aid any or all religious faiths or sects in the
dissemination of their doctrines.” Government
funds cannot be used for religious development.”

“This favoritism is likely the result of universities looking
to pacify their prized football coaches so that they
can reap the benefits of a successful football program.
However, by allowing their employees to force religion
on both students and other employees, universities are
endorsing the sectarian messages of both the coach and
the chaplain, and thereby violating students’ rights.”

“The favoritism and access also confers a certain legitimacy
to the chaplain’s religion. The chaplain appears to be
officially affiliated with the university, thus, the state is
donating its power and prestige to one particular religion.”

“The FCA, despite inducing coaches to violate
these rules, admits that this is the state of the law
The FCA recognizes that at the university level, courts
are still concerned about a university staff member’s
“personal beliefs having a coercive effect on the
students.” The FCA rightly observes that “In a public
university setting, there must be adequate separation so
that an employee’s views are not perceived as connected
to a university course” or the university itself.
The FCA even recognizes that a coach or chaplain’s
free speech is irrelevant in this context: “speech used to
motivate students or athletes in a professor’s role as state
employee is not considered a matter of public concern
and therefore not individual, protected speech. For
example, coaches may not be able to claim motivational
purposes for leading teams in prayer before games.”

“The FCA even explains that coaches cannot endorse
Christianity, but must speak objectively about religion
if it comes up: “professors and coaches must present
beliefs objectively, by discussing aspects of Christian faith
rather than putting forth their own personal beliefs, due
to the potential coercive effects on the students.”

“Pray to Play Freedom From Religion Foundation”

“If serious government-imposed burdens on
religious exercise truly existed for collegiate
athletes and coaches, universities would be
providing chaplains to all their college athletes,
not just Christians, who happen to preach the
same religion as the head coach.”

“At the University of Georgia, Coach Mark Richt
fundraises for his brother-in-law’s chaplain position
and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. At a gala event
in the Butts-Mehre football complex in July of 2014,
Richt helped bring in big money for the FCA. The
gala featured a silent auction with UGA memorabilia,
including an “authentic Todd Gurley home red jersey.”

“Proselytizing – to convert or attempt to convert.”

“The problem of university-sponsored chaplains preying
on student athletes is relatively new. The origin of
this practice comes from Bobby Bowden, Tommy
Tuberville, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Bobby Bowden’s tenure at Florida State spawned many
of the modern, college football chaplaincies including

“Bowden abused his public position to influence the religion of
his subordinates. Georgia head coach Mark Richt, Bowden’s
former assistant coach, joined that interview and said that
Bowden “did share his faith, actually, with the entire football
team after the death of [FSU player] Pablo Lopez… He
basically presented the Gospel to the team … He was talking
to the team, but I was a young graduate assistant coach …
right there I was convinced to go see coach the next
morning and pray to receive Christ as my Lord and savior.”

“Bowden’s first FSU chaplain, Ken Smith, confirmed Richt’s

“Out of Pablo Lopez’s death, assistant coach Mark Richt
became a Christian,” reminded Ken Smith, alluding to
Georgia’s current head coach. “Bobby became stronger
in how he shared faith. When Lopez died, I’ll never
forget being in the hospital. Coach Bowden told me that
night ‘I will never again coach a kid where I don’t know
where he stands in his faith.’ And he didn’t. … From
there on, [Bowden] was very bold in sharing his faith and
what it meant. He was never coercive or intimidating.
He didn’t hit anyone over the head with a Bible but he
was very explicit in his relationship with Christ.”

“According to players, after that, “every meeting and practice
started with a devotional. When [a player] asked Coach why
he did this, he said he wanted to make sure that every one of
his players’ spot in Heaven was secure.” Bowden stated his
goal most boldly in his book, God’s “purpose for me was to go
into coaching and try to influence young men for Jesus Christ.
He wanted me not only to teach them to be good people but
also to surrender their lives to Him.” Bowden even assumed
the title “evangelist.” “It is a good name,” he said. “I think
more of it as trying to give my witness, but it does involve
evangelizing… that’s what God wants me to do.” This is not
football—it is proselytizing using a publicly funded office.”

“This is not football—it is proselytizing using a
publicly funded office.”


“After 15 years with Bowden, Mark Richt, whom Bowden
converted, left FSU in 2001 to coach at the University
Georgia. Richt immediately appointed his brother-in-
law, Kevin Hynes, as UGA’s chaplain.
Since then,
Richt “has taken his team to churches in the preseason.
A devotional service is conducted the night before
each game, and a prayer service on game day.”

“There is no reason to think that the 1 in 3 nonreligious
players would be comfortable dealing with a person who
provides comfort from a religious viewpoint. Chaplains
cannot simply set aside their religion in order to assist a
nonbeliever, and are often unwilling to even try to do so.
For instance, when the UGA chaplain and a player are
talking, the chaplain listens. “The next thing I do is I open
the Word of God and I say, ‘O.K., I’m going to offer them
Biblical teaching with a Christian world view. Well, here’s
what the Bible says about that.’ There are two world views,
one that’s Christian, one that is Biblical, and one that’s not,
and I share the Christian world view with these guys.”
Chaplains view the world and its problems through the lens
of religion and a god, a view inapposite to nonbelievers. A
secular counselor or therapist would be equipped to counsel
100% of athletes, and would be actually licensed to do so.”

“Kevin Hynes, UGA’s chaplain and brother-in-law to head coach
Mark Richt, has been explicit too: “Our message at Georgia
doesn’t change, and that’s to preach Christ and Him crucified,
it’s to win championships for the state of Georgia and win
souls for the Kingdom of God, so we’re going to continue
down that path.” He also “tries to get these guys plugged
in to church…” Hynes even does this with non-Christians,
I tell people … that come to Georgia that are not
Christians and allow me to speak in their lives, I
encourage them to walk with Jesus. … I encourage them
to get into Bible study. I encourage them to get in the
Word. I encourage them to memorize Scripture.”

Mark Richt says : “There’s something besides winning that’s important here.”




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