The NCAA is standing by the University of Mississippi basketball players who opted to kneel during the “Star-Spangled Banner” prior to their game on Saturday.
Eight players knelt during the anthem to protest two pro-Confederate marches that were going on during the game on Ole Miss’s campus.
— NewsWatch Ole Miss (@NewsWatch_UM) February 23, 2019
“As an integral part of higher education, the NCAA values expression and freedom of speech. We think it’s a good thing that like the general student body, student-athletes are aware of issues and current events on their campus and feel that they can get involved or make a statement,” NCAA spokesperson Kelsey Boyd told The Daily Caller on Monday.
She continued, “There are no NCAA rules that would lead to any sanctions for the Ole Miss players or basketball program. The NCAA expects any expressions to be peaceful and to not interfere with the timely, safe conduct of the event.”
Both Ole Miss’s basketball head coach Kermit Davis and athletic director Ross Bjork supported the players’ decision following the team’s 72–71 victory over the University of Georgia.
Context is everything. These Ole Miss players are kneeling during national anthem. Meanwhile, a Pro-Confederate rally is taking place in Oxford to protest Ole Miss removing certain aspects of the university pertaining to Confederate history.
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) February 23, 2019
Kneeling during the national anthem has become a heated topic in recent years. Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in 2016. Many players joined Kaepernick, and even President Donald Trump weighed in on the issue.
After the 2016 football season ended, Kaepernick became a free agent and has remained unsigned and out of the league since. (RELATED: Trump On NFL Anthem Kneelers: ‘Get That Son Of A B**** Off The Field’)
The former 49ers quarterback filed a lawsuit alleging the owners colluded to keep him out of the league. The two sides came to an undisclosed settlement, earlier this month.