SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox recently faced backlash from certain political corners for supporting a scholarship program sponsored by the Utah Jazz, but standing by his position got him some recognition from an NBA legend.
Last week, Cox appeared on a local radio show where he took questions from listeners.
One such question was directed at an initiative started under new Jazz owner Ryan Smith, in which the team will offer a four-year scholarship to an underrepresented or minority student for every win this season.
"What will you do to stop the Utah Jazz from acting in this racist manner?" the caller asked.
Cox responded: "Well, I don't think it's racist."
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) April 16, 2021
Cox tweeted later that day: "if you’re outraged by a private individual trying to help disadvantaged minority kids go to college, then I’m definitely not your guy."
The governor's response then gained national attention.
On Friday, Fox News* host Tucker Carlson called the scholarship program racist and accused Cox of "tribalism."
"A normal person would have pushed back against it because it is racist, obviously. It should be illegal, but Spencer Cox, the Republican governor of Utah, is totally fine with it," Carlson said. "What is shocking and really dispiriting is when you see it from Republicans. We call that out because we should. These are the people that should be pushing back and defending America from tribalism."
The Jazz did not comment specifically on the criticism of the scholarship program or Cox's support of it, but a spokesperson gave the following statement to FOX 13 to explain the reasoning behind the scholarship criteria:
"People of color are underrepresented in the classroom and workforce relative to the rest of the population, with Black and African American, Hispanic and Latinx, and Native American and Alaska Native groups remaining half as likely as their white peers to have a bachelor's degree or higher and having higher unemployment rates than their white counterparts. The goal of the award is to help directly address these gaps by providing scholarships to students of color who have historically received fewer resources and less support."
But Cox also received widespread support from many in the Utah community and beyond.
Kaysville City Councilwoman Michelle Barber applauded him in a tweet.
That led to an endorsement that any basketball fan would die for.
Dwyane Wade quote-tweeted Barber's tweet, telling Cox: "you’re the real MVP."
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) April 17, 2021
Wade, an NBA Finals MVP and All-Star Game MVP himself, now appears to be a fan of the governor's.
The 13-time All-Star and 3-time champion's tweet came just one day after Jazz fans received some exciting news: that the retired star is buying a stake in the team's ownership.
*Editor's note: FOX 13 News (KSTU) is a Fox network affiliate, but it is owned independently by the E.W. Scripps Company. Views expressed on Fox News