Oregon athlete says he had to choose God or football

PSU student Vincent Johnson
PSU student Vincent Johnson

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV/CNN) — Church or football?

A college athlete in Oregon says his coach forced him to choose between the two, and now he’s fighting to stay on the team.

“He asked me to choose between church and football. I said, ‘coach, you can’t ask me to do that. It’s like asking me to choose between God and football,” PSU student Vincent Johnson said.

A choice, Johnson says, wasn’t easy to face.

Choosing church over the sport that brought him to Portland State University.

A decision he didn’t want to, and says shouldn’t have to make.

“I just really want to play,” Johnson said.

But he hasn’t played in months since the spring when he says he went to his coach with a problem.

Four services at his Milwaukie church, the World Mission Society Church of God, fell at the same time as football practice.

Johnson claims his coach would only allow some of the absences.

“There’s a lot of people that miss practice due to if they have academics, or anything like that, so it could have been arranged,” Johnson said.

He’s filed a complaint with the university which is still under investigation.

“We reported it to our Global Diversity and Inclusion Office and immediately began an investigation. In the meantime, we’ve made the student aware that their tuition and their scholarship is safe and secure,” PSU Communications Director Scott Gallagher said.

For that, Johnson says, he’s grateful.

“That was a blessing right there,” Johnson said.

His primary focus is still on finishing school.

But also hoping to get back on the field.

“I just want to finish my college career,” Johnson said.

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