UMass sophomore guard Derrick Gordon became the first openly gay player in Division I men's college basketball on Wednesday, coming out to both ESPN and Outsports a week after sharing his story with his teammates.
"I just didn't want to hide anymore, in any way," Gordon told ESPN.com. "I didn't want to have to lie or sneak. I've been waiting and watching for the last few months, wondering when a Division I player would come out, and finally I just said, 'Why not me?'"
Gordon said he decided to come out publicly in the days following UMass's loss to Tennessee in the NCAA tournament. The 6-3 guard started every game this season for the Minutemen, averaging 9.4 points and 3.5 rebounds. He transferred from Western Kentucky two seasons ago.
Gordon told ESPN.com that a key moment for him in his decision-making process was when the Brooklyn Nets signed veteran center Jason Collins to a 10-day contract in February. Collins, who came out to Sports Illustrated last May, became the first openly gay player in NBA history when he played against the Lakers on Feb. 23.
"That was so important to me, knowing that sexuality didn't matter, that the NBA was OK with it," Gordon said.
Gordon came out to his teammates on April 2, three days after he told Minutemen coach Derek Kellogg that he was gay.
"From speaking with Derrick, I realized the pressure he had, the weight that was on his shoulders," Kellogg told ESPN.com. "You can already see in his demeanor that he is so much happier. I actually think this is something that brings our team closer together and helps Derrick play more freely."