The president of Bluefield College, Virginia, suspended several basketball players for kneeling during the National Anthem, leading to a game forfeiture.
The team was scheduled to play the NAIA game against Reinhardt, but the president, David Olive, decided to suspend the players after he’d told them to stop kneeling after he found out that they were planning to do so before several games.
Olive released a statement addressing his decision: “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.”
Olive, a white man, had a meeting with the team’s coaches and players, and Tonia Walker, the school’s athletic director, who is Black.
Olive stated that he learned of the team’s plan to kneel and asked Richard Morgan, the head coach, to ask them to stop. However, the players knelt again shortly after his warning. According to football player Jewels Gray, the school had told its athletes prior to the fall season that they would be permitted to kneel before games.
“Why would our school contradict what they said?” Gray asked. “We had meetings before the season with [the athletic director] and the president, and they stated that we can kneel and they’d support and be behind us, 100 percent.”
“I have heard and I understand the perspective of our players as to why they desire to kneel during the National Anthem. I also know this form of protest immediately shuts down a number of individuals from listening to the intended message because of their perspective regarding the flag. No individual’s sincere motives are inherently wrong. But I continue to contend that we will not get to where we want AND NEED to get as a country in addressing these racial issues without making honest attempts at creating pathways that bring people together for a common cause,” Olive said in his statement.
Gray stated that the basketball team had been barred from speaking to the media or releasing a statement.
Sources: New York Post