Virginia Tech athletic director Whi Babcock admitted Wednesday he didn’t correctly anticipate the strong opinions that have sprouted from the announcement that Michael Vick would be inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. Babcock even apologized for his insensitivity.
But he also doubled down on his support of Vick’s introduction.
“What I didn’t fully appreciate at all or I should have, and this is on me, I didn’t fully appreciate the impact it would have, for example, on the college of veterinary medicine here,” Babcock said according to Richmond.com. “The folks across campus also didn’t ask to get in the middle of this debate.
“So while I absolutely support Michael Vick going into the hall of fame, and we are going to do that, I just apologize to those groups. We could have done a little bit better on that. And the national or some outside-the-Hokie constituency reaction, I underestimated that as well.”
In the three weeks since the announcement of Vick’s induction, there have been several online petitions organized from animal rights groups. One petition has 75,000 signatures that support the quarterback not being enshrinement according to Richmond.com.
Furthermore, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine dean Dr. Cyril Clarke posted a statement opposing Vick’s honor on Facebook. Babcock seemed to target Dr. Clarke the most in his apology.
Vick received a 23-month prison sentence in 2007 for his involvement in a dogfighting ring in Newport News, VA. He returned to play football in 2009 after serving jail time and has since worked with the Human Society to help promote animal welfare.
The quarterback played for Virginia Tech for two seasons, leading the Hokies to a national championship game appearance during his first season in 1999. Vick is to be inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame at halftime of the Hokies’ home football game against Old Dominion on Saturday, Sept. 23.