South Carolina’s football team has parted ways with longtime team chaplain Adrian Despres.
"Adrian was not retained because Coach Muschamp’s philosophy is to have not just one voice, but multiple voices available to assist with the spiritual development of the student-athletes," USC athletics spokesman Steve Fink said.
Coach Will Muschamp had spoken publicly about the move at a Rotary Club meeting in March. While discussing his faith, Muschamp said he prefers a multi-person approach.
“There’s no question being a Christian is very important to me,” Muschamp told the group. “That’s not something I push on our players. It’s something I make readily available for our players. We don’t have a team pastor. We have a group of people who will come talk to our players at different times. When you narrow things down with one person and they get sideways with a player or two or three or there’s a portion of the team, I think it creates a little bit of an issue.”
Muschamp was answering a question from a member of the audience about his spiritual approach at the time.
“My father gave me great advice when I went to college. He said, ‘You need to have a great blend athletically, academically, socially and spiritually, and if you have a great blend in all four of those areas, you’ll be good,’” Muschamp said. “I give every student-athlete I recruit the same advice, choose this place because you have a great blend of those four.”
Despres told WYFF he was relieved of his duties in January.
““I love the guys on the team, the coaching staff and the university as a whole," Despres told the station. “God called me to be the USC chaplain and He also called me away from that position. And that’s good, too.”
Despres, who played football at Furman, had been with the team for 17 years. He came through a heart condition in the summer of 2015.
His position also came under some criticism when The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter of complaint in August, requesting the elimination of the chaplaincy in the USC football program.
Josh Kendall contributed to this report.