UPDATE: UTC football coach fired for derogatory Tweet sues, claiming First Amendment protection

UPDATE: Former UTC Offensive Line Coach Chris Malone, who was fired in January for a derogatory tweet aimed at Georgia's Stacey Abrams, is suing the university, claiming his tweet was protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The suit was filed by Churdar Law Firm out of Greenville, South Carolina.

"UTC is going to get acquainted with the First Amendment. As a public school, it cannot control what its employees say at social gatherings or on social media. It certainly cannot fire them for criticizing and mocking politicians," Malone’s attorney, Doug Churdar, said in a press release.

Churdar argued that Malone shouldn't lose his career over a tweet he says is protected by the First Amendment.

“It’s search and destroy out there. There’s no way a man should lose a 20-year career over a tweet that was up for 30 minutes,” Churdar said. “Most victims of cancel culture just walk away. Chris Malone won’t walk away.”

This is a developing story. Stay with WRCB for updates.


PREVIOUS STORY: A tweet by a member of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's football coaching staff has resulted in his being fired.

The post, made by now-former UTC Offensive Line Coach Chris Malone, targeted Georgia's Stacey Abrams and the state's recent runoff election that propelled Democratic Senate candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to office, defeating Republicans incumbent Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

Malone's Twitter account appears to have since been deleted.

Reaction to the post was swift after it was widely shared by others as screen captures on other social media platforms.

Mark Wharton – UTC Vice Chancellor & Directory of Athletics said in a statement:

“Last night, a totally inappropriate social media post by a member of our football staff was brought to my attention. The entire post was appalling. The sentiments in that post do not represent the values of our football program, our Athletics department or our University. With that said, effectively immediately, that individual is no longer a part of the program.”

Rusty Wright – UTC Head Football Coach said:

“Our football program has a clear set of standards. Those standards include respecting others. It is a message our players hear daily. It is a standard I will not waiver on. What was posted on social media by a member of my staff is unacceptable and not any part of what I stand for or what Chattanooga Football stands for. Life is bigger than football and as leaders of young men, we have to set that example, first and foremost. With that said, effectively immediately, that individual is no longer a part of my staff.”

Thursday afternoon, the Chattanooga Hamilton County Branch of the NAACP issued a statement, which can be seen below.