Creighton University announced Thursday that men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott has been suspended for having likened his players to being on a “plantation” in a recent postgame speech.

The athletic director for the Omaha-based Jesuit university, Bruce Rasmussen, said in a statement that he and the school’s president, Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, discussed with other officials that day “appropriate sanctions” for what he described as comments that were “not in alignment with Creighton’s commitment to racial equity, diversity and respect.”

McDermott has been banned from all team activities, effective immediately, Rasmussen said, and other punishments “remain under consideration.”

McDermott, 56, apologized Tuesday for “the pain that my words have caused.”

In a statement he shared on his Twitter account at the time, McDermott quoted his comments as follows: “Guys, we got to stick together. We need both feet in. I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation.”

“Over the last 72 hours, I have engaged in multiple difficult conversations with student-athletes, staff, parents, and University administrators,” McDermott wrote Tuesday in his apology. “I am committed to ensure that this will never happen again and am using this as a learning experience. While there remains work to be done and trust to earn back, I appreciate our student-athletes’ honesty and will maintain an open dialogue as we grow and learn together.”

McDermott said he made his comments Saturday after his 17-6 Bluejays suffered “an emotionally tough loss on the road” to Xavier. “I addressed our student-athletes and staff in the postgame locker room,” he said, “and used a terrible inappropriate analogy in making a point about staying together as a team despite the loss.”

McDermott claimed that he had “never used that analogy” before and that “it is not indicative of who I am as a person or as a coach.”

In a separate statement Tuesday, Creighton described the language McDermott used as “deplorable.”

“While an apology is a start,” the school said, “and while we believe this was out of character for Coach McDermott, in no way does it diminish the fact that his remark was hurtful to many and has absolutely no place in the Creighton community. We have offered our full and unconditional support to those affected by his words.”

Creighton assistant coach Terrence Rencher, released his own statement Tuesday in conjunction with Coaches For Action, whose goal is to “educate and bring awareness to social injustices.”

“I am deeply hurt by his words,” said Rencher, who is Black. “While my relationship with Coach has been positive and I have never witnessed any racist energy from him, what he said was wrong and insensitive. ‘Plantation’ had a dark and hurtful history in my community and cannot be overlooked.

“The players have decided that they want to continue to chase their goals on the court this season with Coach McDermott, and I support their wishes and will continue to pour my heart into coaching them and helping them deal with larger issues.”

Rasmussen said Thursday that another assistant, Alan Huss, will serve as interim head coach in McDermott’s absence.

McDermott, the father of NBA player and former Creighton star Doug McDermott, is in his 11th season with the Bluejays. An Iowa native whose previous head coaching stops included Iowa State, Northern Iowa, North Dakota State and Wayne State, McDermott is the reigning Big East coach of the year and has taken No. 14 Creighton to the NCAA tournament five times.

Before a game Wednesday at No. 10 Villanova, McDermott reportedly said on a pregame show that he had offered to resign. Following the game, a 72-60 loss, the coach said of his players, “The pain I saw in their eyes was immense. That’s a cross that I’m going to have to bear for a while. I’m going to come out of this on the other end a better person because of it. But it’s going to be a process.”

“Coach McDermott and our athletics program must use this incident as an opportunity for growth and learning,” Rasmussen said Thursday, “as clearly more work needs to be done.”

Read more: