Tennessee Republicans encourage state universities to prohibit players kneeling during national anthem

Tennessee lawmakers on Monday despatched a letter to every of the state’s 9 public Division I universities, encouraging them to enact insurance policies to prohibit athletes from kneeling during the taking part in of the national anthem.

Every of the state’s 27 Republican senators, together with Lt. Gov. Randall McNally, signed their approval of the notion within the letter, which was addressed to the universities’ respective chancellors and presidents. The transfer appears to be a direct response to the East Tennessee State College males’s basketball group, whose players knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a Feb. 16 sport towards Tennessee-Chattanooga.

The observe of kneeling during the national anthem has grow to be commonplace lately after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick popularized the motion. Athletes of all ranges have used their platform to peacefully protest problems with police brutality, systemic racism and racial injustice.

Tennessee Republican senators, nonetheless, described the observe as “disrespectful.”

MORE: Bluefield College forfeits NAIA basketball game after players suspended for kneeling during national anthem

“Whereas we acknowledge our student-athletes could specific their very own views on a wide range of points of their private time, we don’t condone any type of protest that could possibly be considered as disrespectful to our nation or our flag whereas they’re representing our state universities,” the letter reads. “Once they don the jersey of a Tennessee college, they step out of their private roles and into the position of an envoy to our state.

“To handle this situation, we encourage every of you to undertake insurance policies inside your respective athletic departments to prohibit any such actions shifting ahead.”

ETSU coach Jason Shay and president Brian Noland each backed the group’s actions, saying it did not intend disrespect however sought to immediate discussions of racial inequality. In accordance to The Tennessean of Nashville, state senators questioned the act in a Monday assembly with a consultant of the College of Tennessee’s normal counsel group.

“The First Modification is sacrosanct,” Sen. Janice Bowling stated (via The Tennessean). “I might by no means resist something that’s going to enable them to train their First Modification on their very own time, completely. They’re representing the varsity and the varsity represents Tennessee and Tennessee reveals choice to our time-honored individuals and establishments who went earlier than us. We respect our heritage and our historical past.”

Tennessee senators’ beneficial motion might grow to be a First Modification situation among the many state’s public universities; the varsity’s counsel member stated college students’ First Modification rights have been protected by its code of conduct. Earlier in February, nonetheless, personal NAIA college Bluefield College forfeited a men’s basketball game after the college president suspended players for kneeling during the anthem.

The Tennessean’s report notes that lawmakers have efficiently lower funding to public universities as technique of curbing capabilities they discovered offensive. To that finish, state Democrats have warned universities to proceed cautiously.

“If we’re going to actually strive to not be divisive, what can we do to make individuals not need to kneel?” stated Vincent Dixie, chairman of the Tennessee Home Democratic Caucus. “What can we do to take that out of the equation? What’s inflicting them to kneel in a peaceable protest?

“So we won’t protest peacefully? We don’t protest violently. However you need to simply hammer us down, or the scholars down, on each flip.”

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