Earlier this week, Megan Mullen, the wife of University of Florida’s head football coach Dan Mullen, went viral for her longstanding practice of hugging and kissing Gators players as they come off the bus for games.
When asked about it in 2018, Megan Mullen told Rivals.com, “At first maybe when I came in they said, ‘wow, who is that blond thats around and is always hugging me. Now they come up to me and hug me and talk to me before I get to them.”
Many on the internet found the idea of a grown, married woman going around week after week hugging and kissing young men in their late teens and early twenties a bit disturbing and in turn, left her open to wild speculation about the reasons behind her behavior.
Some players, however, like Gators wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland, see nothing wrong with Megan Mullen’s actions, and in fact, welcome it.
“The way she shows love to us it’s a cool thing to have. It’s good to have a lady like that, sweet and kind,” he said.
Gators head coach Dan Mullen has said that his wife is “like the co-head coach when it comes to being around the players. You know pick them up and she is always positive, always has a smile on her face. But thats who she is. Not just around the players but she does that for me, she always puts a smile on my face.”
Still, many on social media found her behavior to be at best, inappropriate, and at worst, sexual harassment.
So y'all just let this lady violate these players out of "tradition"? This is disgusting! https://t.co/ndpAhdEFaa— BlackWomenViews (@blackwomenviews) November 4, 2019
Wait one damn minute. Do they WANT to be kissed? That's a trick question...how tf does she know? Her husband is their coach, which means he controls their play time, promotion and even scholarships. Would the hubs of a woman coach be allowed to do this bullsh•t? GTFOHWTBS!— Twin & Her Hubs! 🇺🇸✌🏾🏳️🌈✊🏾 (@CLE_SHONUFF) November 4, 2019
Those poor kids. I doubt these young men want to kiss some strange older woman. And if the genders were reversed their would be outrage. This double standard is b.s. Nobody should be touching, let alone kissing others that aren’t asking you to.— Crzycatldy (@Crzycatldy2) November 4, 2019
This is weird AF. And inappropriate. Can you imagine if this was the women’s gymnastics coach’s husband kissing all the girls on the mouth!? WTF— PupDawg (@pupwalker1) November 3, 2019
One person, Carron J. Phillips, the 2016 Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists Journalist of the Year, agrees that there appears to be a troubling double-standard happening when it comes to Megan Mullen’s behavior.
In a new article for The Shadow League, Phillips writes…
Since the football players at the University of Florida are probably too afraid to say this publicly, I’ll do it for them.
What Megan Mullen is doing is gross, disrespectful, and the epitome of a double standard.
Because if a black woman was kissing an almost all-white football team of college-aged young men on the lips or cheek before each game, it would be a national story.
And if a man, no matter his race, was kissing an all-female team as part of a “gameday tradition” then all hell would break loose.
Lost count of the number of things wrong with this. Let’s start with unwanted touching (sexual assault?) by someone in power. Disagree? What do you think happens if a player pulls away? What if the husband of a volleyball coach kissed all the female players before each game? https://t.co/CpC7Aj7YUX— April (@ReignOfApril) November 4, 2019
Phillips goes on to write, “The video clip is the definition of white female privilege. In it, Mullen isn’t bashful about kissing and hugging players before and after games. She feels it’s her right, as if everything about this isn’t abnormal, weird, and uncomfortable.”
He also discussed how he believes “sexual misconduct gets ignored in Gainesville” using the way Florida athletics handled the case of former freshman quarterback Jalon Jones being accused of sexual battery involving two female students as an example.
“Which is why I’m hoping that when the Gators welcome Vanderbilt into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Mullen won’t be around because the university will have done the right thing and banned her from all pregame and postgame activities that involve the team,” Phillips added.
The original tweet that went viral showing a photo of Megan Mullen nose-to-nose with a Gators player has since been deleted (you can still view it here), but it remains to be seen if she and her hugs and kisses will also be deleted from the Gators’ pregame activities on Saturday and in the future because despite the controversy, no one from the University of Florida, to my knowledge, has made any comment about it.