Fr. Mark Poorman
Fr. Mark Poorman

These offensive statements do not reflect us, and they do not reflect our mission.

" Fr. Mark Poorman President, University of Portland

The president of the University of Portland has strongly decried public statements made by a school tennis player.

Goutham Sundaram, who played tennis at Lincoln High School in Portland before enrolling at U.P., on April 15 was serving as emcee of a student-run sports award banquet. Sundaram, in an attempt at humor, described his sexual pursuits at the Catholic-run school in North Portland, causing many people to leave the room in protest. Among those who left was former Trail Blazer and current men’s basketball coach Terry Porter. Female athletes quickly spoke out in opposition.

Holy Cross Father Mark Poorman, president of the university, had attended the banquet and the next day sent a note to everyone at the university. Calling Sundaram’s comments “shocking and offensive,” Father Poorman said he was appalled at the statements, which had racial as well as sexual content.

“These offensive statements do not reflect us, and they do not reflect our mission,” Father Poorman said.

The priest said he remained in the room to honor student athletes and staff and did not want to let Sundaram’s outburst take away from the recognition.

“Clearly we have continuing work to do to educate and raise consciousness,” Father Poorman said.

Sundaram has been removed from the U.P. tennis roster. Father Poorman said he expects additional steps will be taken.

“There is no place at the University of Portland for what was said,” Father Poorman wrote. “It wasn't funny, and it is completely inconsistent with the important dialogues that continue on our campus. Verbal or physical, it is still abuse.”

Sundaram issued a statement, saying he is sorry for disrupting the focus of the evening and “would like to apologize if I made any people uncomfortable.”