The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state/church watchdog, has contacted Georgia Institute of Technology President G.P. Peterson to request changes to the football program's embedded chaplain.
Peterson is one of 20 presidents or administrators of public universities being contacted by FFRF, in conjunction with its groundbreaking "Pray to Play" report issued this month alerting public universities to widespread abuses entangling religion with football programs.
Chaplain Derrick Moore is treated like a member of the coaching staff of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, leading pre-game prayers that blend football with religion, FFRF charges. His prayer before a 2011 game against Clemson begins: "As we get ready to go into attack mode, God, be with these boys." At the conclusion of the prayer, Moore wields his signature sledgehammer.
Click the image to view a video of Moore's prayer and pep talk
"Not only is he inappropriately proselytizing, he is being paid by the state to do so," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Chaplain Derrick Moore was paid $7,500 under his chaplain contract for the 2014 football season. His first task under the contract is to: "Provide Spiritual and Personal Development for Student Athletes (primarily the football program)." Moore has contracts with Georgia Tech dating back to at least 2011. According to school records, Georgia Tech paid him more than $14,000 in 2011 and 2012. Based on those school records, it appears that Georgia Tech has paid him more than $43,000 total.
Gaylor said even if Moore was unpaid or paid through private means, Georgia Tech would still be violating the rights of conscience of its student players, by giving a proselytizer unique access to students. "Moore's presence at the invitation of this public university signals its unconstitutional endorsement of his message. Moore's speech becomes the state university's speech," Gaylor explained. Imagine, she added, the uproar were an imam to be given such access to coach students and tell them there is only "one true god, Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet."
FFRF also sent an informational letter to players on the Georgia Tech team to inform them of their constitutional rights.
To view the full report explaining the depth of this problem in college football, go here.
To view the two page executive summary, go here.
To view the records FFRF obtained from the Georgia Tech, go here.