Chris Fagan has joined Alastair Clarkson in denying any wrongdoing in the AFL racism scandal and said he is “deeply disturbed” by allegations threatening his coaching career.
Both coaches say they will be working with an independent inquiry into allegations of racism from their time at Hawthorn, which the federal government has described as “sick”.
The AFL is expected to appoint a four-person investigative panel headed by a King’s Counsel.
In the meantime, Fagan has left his coaching post at Brisbane while Clarkson will delay the start of his new tenure in North Melbourne.
Fagan (pictured right with ex-Hawthorn head coach Alastair Clarkson in 2016) has categorically denied allegations including his involvement in telling an Indigenous Hawthorn player to get her partner to terminate her pregnancy
Former Hawthorn player welfare manager Jason Burt has given an indefinite leave of absence from his position as head of coaching and competitive sport at Melbourne’s private school Caulfield Grammar.
In addition, ex-Hawks President Andrew Newbold has taken a leave of absence from the AFL Commission.
“I was shocked and devastated by the allegations reported in the media yesterday regarding my time at Hawthorn Football Club,” Fagan said in a statement to AFL.com.au on Thursday.
“I categorically deny allegations of wrongdoing by me regarding First Nations players at Hawthorn Football Club.
“I’ve had very positive relationships with First Nations players throughout my many years in football, and those of different races and ethnic groups.”
‘Shocked and deeply distraught’: Fagan’s future in football is threatened by the chilling allegations and he says he looks forward to taking his side of the events to an AFL inquiry
The racism allegations were reported by the ABC on Wednesday after Hawthorn commissioned an investigation earlier in the year.
Fagan said he was not interviewed as part of the Hawthorn review.
The ABC said Fagan, Clarkson and Burt did not respond to questions put to them.
“I intend to defend myself,” Fagan said.
“I hope people will judge me by how I actually behave and not by what the media writes.
“I support and applaud the investigation announced by the AFL yesterday.
“I intend to give my full participation in the investigation and look forward to being heard and receiving due process and fairness.”
Jason Burt was Hawthorn’s player development manager under Alastair Clarkson. He has now stepped down indefinitely from his job at a top Melbourne private school after being named in the startling allegations revealed in an ABC report on Wednesday
Among the many allegations leveled by unnamed former Hawthorn players, Fagan and Clarkson have been accused of telling a player and his partner to terminate their pregnancy and separate so the player can focus on football.
The partner of one player cited in the ABC report claims Burt told her to end her relationship with the footballer because of his career and that it would be better for his footy if he “didn’t become a father.”
Clarkson denied any wrongdoing in a statement Wednesday.
“The health, care and welfare of our players, staff and their families have always been my highest priorities during my time at Hawthorn,” Clarkson said.
“That’s why I was shocked by the extremely serious allegations that were reported in the media today.”
Four-time Premiership manager Clarkson was with Hawthorn between 2005 and 2021.
Fagan (pictured with Alastair Clarkson in 2018)
Fagan was Clarkson’s senior assistant coach and general manager of football for the Hawks from 2008 to 2016 before being appointed Brisbane manager in 2017.
The uproar prompted Eddie Betts to urge all AFL clubs to conduct reviews of their historical treatment of Indigenous players, similar to Hawthorn’s.
AFL board member Travis Auld said the league will continue to consult with Betts on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players.
But it has yet to get to the point of responding to the former Carlton and Adelaide star’s suggestion that widespread criticism be leveled at the competition.
“Right now the focus is on getting a panel together and starting this particular investigation because there are obviously people who are affected and we want to get to the facts as soon as possible,” Auld told reporters Thursday.
The AFL has said all parties will be afforded “natural justice” through their investigations.
“What’s important is to understand the facts and speak to the people who are clearly affected,” Auld said.