Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry was reprimanded by the top commander of the academy yesterday after making statements about black athletes and recruiting.

DeBerry issued a public apology, saying, "I realize the things I said might have been hurtful to many people and I want everyone to understand that I never intended to offend anyone."

DeBerry raised the topic Monday while discussing Air Force's 48-10 loss to Texas Christian, telling the Gazette of Colorado Springs the academy needed to recruit faster players and noting, "You don't see many minority athletes in our program."

Asked about it Tuesday, DeBerry noted that TCU had more black players than Air Force. "It just seems to me to be that way," he said. "Afro-American kids can run very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me that they run extremely well."

Athletic Director Hans Mueh said he talked with DeBerry early yesterday and told him his comments were inappropriate. Mueh and DeBerry went to the home of academy superintendent John Regni, who took command on Monday, and Regni also reprimanded the coach.

But Mueh said the 67-year-old coach, in his 22nd year as head coach with the Falcons, would not lose his job.

"That's an easy one to answer," Mueh said. "I've known Fisher DeBerry for all the years he's been here. This is a man who's produced leaders for our nation for 25 years. He's our coach. He'll continue to be our coach until I lose confidence in his ability to produce leaders for the Air Force and our nation."

DeBerry came under criticism last year for his role in the academy's discussion of religious tolerance. DeBerry was forced to remove a Christian banner from the team's locker room and underwent training on religious tolerance. This season, for the first time since he became coach, DeBerry has not led his team in pregame and postgame prayers.

-- From News Services