This college president won't stand for athletes kneeling during national anthem
The president of Bluefield College in Virginia took a stand against athletes kneeling during the national anthem.
The school suspended the men's basketball team for one game after players defied a warning against kneeling.
The president of Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia, announced in an open letter to the campus community that he will continue to enforce a policy that prohibits kneeling during the national anthem, even after suspending the entire basketball team for one game.
The small Baptist college's men's basketball team knelt during the national anthem before several games, according to Fox News. When this came to the attention of President David Olive, he says he spoke with the Vice President for Athletics and the men's basketball coach to instruct them to require the players to stand during the anthem.
When the players kneeled yet again, he suspended them all for a game - forcing Bluefield men's basketball to forfeit a game against Georgia's Reinhardt University.
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"I have been asked by the basketball team, as well as other students, about their First Amendment rights of free speech. As I shared with the team and these other students, you give up some of those rights when you step foot on our campus. We are a private entity, not a governmental entity. We have policies and guidelines throughout the student handbook and the academic catalog that limit certain rights you otherwise might have elsewhere...When someone puts on a uniform or is performing a function on behalf of Bluefield College, that person is now representing Bluefield College."
Student-athlete Stanley Christian told ESPN that Olive hasn't done enough to listen to the players. He described the current situation using references to slavery.
"That jersey is basically shackles to us. Now we feel like we're chained up now, and that's not right," he said.
In his open letter, Olive expressed his support for the student protestors, saying: "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."
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The Bluefield College student handbook does not explicitly address protesting or kneeling during the national anthem. Bluefield College did not respond to a request for comment.
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