Michael Sam played the 2013 college football season open about his sexuality to his University of Missouri teammates before coming out publicly ahead of the NFL Draft. During the 2014 season, major college football will have its first openly gay active player.
Edward “Chip” Sarafin, an offensive lineman for Arizona State University, came out as gay in an interview with Compete Magazine, as Outsports.com first noted. Sarafin told the magazine that he came out to his teammates during the spring, saying, “It was really personal to me, and it benefited my peace of mind greatly.”
According to Complete, “Sarafin says that he told his teammates mostly for himself and because he wanted them to hear it straight from him instead of the college rumor mill that all players find themselves subjected to at some point.”
Sam, who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round in May, tweeted his congratulations.
College football has had openly gay players at lower levels and others, like Sam, have been open to teammates and friends. But Sarafin is believed to be the first to do so at a major school — Arizona State plays in the PAC-12 — while he is an active player. That is yet another barrier broken in the world of major American sports: Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay player in Major League Soccer last year, while Jason Collins became the NBA’s first openly gay player in February, nearly a year after he came out on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Sam was the first openly gay NFL Draft pick and could this fall become the NFL’s first openly gay player. University of Massachusetts guard Derrick Gordon came out shortly after last spring’s NCAA Tournament and could become the first active openly gay Division I college basketball player this season.
“We are a brotherhood that is not defined by cultural and personal differences, but rather an individual’s commitment to the Sun Devil Way,” Arizona State coach Todd Graham said in a statement to OutSports. “Diversity and acceptance are two of the pillars of our program, and he has full support from his teammates and the coaching staff.”
Athletic director Ray Anderson said that “the entire athletics department is extremely proud of Chip and is unequivocally supportive of him.”