Fordham basketball coach Tom Pecora expects no problems when Massachusetts guard Derrick Gordon -- the first openly gay player in Division I men's basketball -- visits Rose Hill next winter.
"I think we underestimate the youth of America right now," Pecora said Thursday. "I think they're a much more accepting group of people than we were and I think there will be no issues with it."
Gordon, who is a starting shooting guard and will be a junior next season, made his announcement Wednesday in interviews with ESPN and Outsports. Gordon followed in the footsteps of the NBA's Jason Collins and former Missouri football player Michael Sam. Collins became the first openly gay player in the NBA when he signed a 10-day contract with the Nets in February. Sam soon will become the NFL's first openly gay player.
UMass and Fordham both participate in the Atlantic 10 and Pecora said the game, the date of which has yet to be announced, will be approached like any other.
"If someone were to do something improper or inappropriate to him from the stands at one of our games -- which I would be shocked by because we're in New York and it's as diverse and cosmopolitan city as there is in the world -- if it were to happen, I would go and defend him before he could get to those people," Pecora said. "But I don't anticipate that at Fordham or anywhere else."
Pecora said his team would be unfazed by Gordon's announcement.
"I don't think there's one guy in my locker room that would have an issue with it," he said. "On campus they deal with openly gay students who are their friends. What's the difference in the locker room?"
Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade issued a statement: "I am happy for Derrick as this announcement has given him a real sense of relief and strength. The Atlantic 10 will support him as we do all of our student-athletes and coaches. Embracing diversity is a core value in the A-10. It makes us all better."