A college basketball team in Virginia was suspended after they chose to kneel during the national anthem on Thursday night.
The NAIA Div. II school, Bluefield College, was given the option before their conference game on Thursday. The choices were to stop kneeling for the anthem, or they would face suspension. The players at the Baptist college chose to take the suspension and forfeit the game against Reinhardt University.
According to TMZ, the Rams have been kneeling prior to all their games throughout January and February. Even after the president of the college, David Olive asked the men to stop, the athletes refused and continued to kneel.
The president decided to take the insubordination into his own hands. He said that he does not want his college involved in the political divide in the country. Olive also adds that alumni and donors would not react positively to the demonstration.
“The basis for my decision stemmed from my own awareness of how kneeling is perceived by some in our country, and I did not think a number of our alumni, friends, and donors of the College would view the act of kneeling during the anthem in a positive way. Pointing to the already fractured and divided nature of our country, I did not want Bluefield College contributing to the further divide; rather, I wanted the College to bring people together in a united effort to address issues of racial injustice.”
College President Looks To Combat Kneeling During National Anthem
Olive reveals that he has been looking into other ways to highlight the racial issue besides kneeling. He says that he has been holding meetings with players as well as the school’s athletic director about the topic.
He presented ideas such as kneeling during player introduction or reading a message about how to combat racism. The players denied the proposals.
However, due to the ongoing kneeling, Olive felt as though he had no choice but to suspend the athletes.
“I further told them that their intended message in bringing awareness of racial injustices was being diluted or completely lost because some saw their act of kneeling as being disrespectful to the flag, our country, and to our veterans. In my opinion, their message was not being heard.”
The Bluefield College president closed his statement, saying that he understands why the men are kneeling, and he would even join them. He only asks that the men not do it during the national anthem.
“I will kneel with you anywhere at any time as an expression of my solidarity with you to bring about racial justice and equality, except during the National Anthem. I am with you.”
The Bluefield College Rams will take on Milligan University on Monday. It is unclear if the game will go on or if players will continue to kneel. Olive says he is not sure at this time what he will do if it continues.