Under any reasonable circumstance, even the most ardent TCU Horned Frog, or Texas A&M Aggie, fan would not know Greg Featherston. He was in compliance. Who cares?
By now there is an above-average chance you know the man’s name because of his private Facebook link that went public, then viral, and essentially cost him his position as an assistant director of athletics at TCU.
A Texas graduate (Class of 2000), Featherston last week posted a link that he did not write but happened to share on his Facebook page. It said: “If the number of [Texas A&M] students that were victims [of the bonfire collapse in 1999] of what amounted to drunken, negligent homicide on the part of that cow college didn’t match so perfectly with the cult’s favorite number, I doubt you would have seen anything like this done.”
It blew up when someone “shared” this link, citing it as a post from a member of the TCU athletic department. Friday morning, amid more than 1,000 phone calls and emails to the school highly critical of Featherston’s Facebook post, he offered to resign.
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By Saturday afternoon, an employee, who had worked at TCU for three years, was unemployed.
On Monday, Featherston, 37, agreed to an interview on the condition that I would not offer any opinion in a space normally designated for editorializing. Full disclosure: Before Monday, I had never met the man. Like you, before last week, I had never heard of him.
This is merely the chance to let Featherston talk.
ME: Why did you do it?
Featherston: I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t read it from a lens other than what the thread topic was about. Had I done that, I would have deleted it immediately or never posted it. I never even thought about it until it blew up.
ME: Why was resigning the right decision?
Featherston: Because it’s unfair to my employer to be in the middle of a situation like this that was my mistake. That’s not fair. I know how a business works, how athletics work. We can’t afford this type of negativity around the program. If I am the reason for the negativity, it’s better I move on.
ME: What would you want to say to someone you may have offended?
Featherston: That was never my intention and I feel terrible. Sharing a post on a Facebook page does not define a person, and it doesn’t mean that I’m not compassionate. I feel horrible about everything that happened, and I did when it happened (in ’99). The last thing I would want to do is make it worse.
There have been some horrible things said about me and I’m not in a position to defend myself. I don’t know if they would have fired me or not. I was not going to put them in the position to make that decision.
ME: Obvious question — are you sorry?
Featherston: I am absolutely sorry. I deeply regret the whole situation. And not because I don’t have a job. You can make money. You can do something. I feel bad the whole thing happened, for TCU, and for the people I offended.
ME: How are you doing?
Featherston: Not great, but I have family and many friends across the country who are very supportive. I’ve received threatening emails, some of which I forwarded to the police. It’s just not worth it. We had donors who had one kid at A&M and another at TCU threatening to pull their season tickets.
Somebody created a Gmail account as “greg.featherston.tcu” and sent me an email that read: “I hope you are sitting at your desk because I am about to type what type of person you are.” I called IT to try to block it, but it went to everybody internally (at TCU) and it was signed, “Greg’s Conscience.” If you think it can go bad, you don’t know how bad it can go. It doesn’t even take 24 hours.
ME: What have you learned from this?
Featherston: This whole thing is a lesson to people. You put it on Facebook, and it had my place of work on there, and then people put it on a message board, and — boom. That nothing you put on Facebook, or social media, is ever really private regardless if you delete it, or your settings (on your account).
ME: What are you going to do now?
Featherston: I’m not sure. Everything happens for a reason. I don’t know if I’ll stay in athletics or not, but I loved my job and the people at TCU.
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