Landry threatens scholarships over LSU anthem policy

The pregame logistics of LSU’s Elite Eight loss to Iowa have turned into a controversy that reached the governor’s mansion on Tuesday.
Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry posted a tweet the morning after LSU’s 94-87 loss to Iowa calling for the Louisiana Board of Regents to create a policy mandating that student-athletes be present for a pregame national anthem or risk losing their scholarships.
Several conservative commentators had spent the previous several hours criticizing LSU’s players and coaches for not being on the court when the national anthem was played ahead of the Elite Eight in Albany, New York.
Landry’s full tweet:
“My mother coached women’s high school basketball during the height of desegregation, no one has a greater respect for the sport and for Coach Mulkey. However, above respect for that game is a deeper respect for those that serve to protect us and unite us under one flag !
“It is time that all college boards, including Regent, put a policy in place that student athletes be present for the national anthem or risk their athletic scholarship! This is a matter of respect that all collegiate coaches should instill.”
The LSU players not being on the court wasn’t a protest of any sort, as LSU head coach Kim Mulkey explained after the game. The coach of the defending champions told reporters that the team was following its usual pregame routine:
“Honestly, I don’t even know when the anthem was played. We kind of have a routine when they’re on the floor and they come off at the 12-minute mark. I don’t know, we come in and we do our pregame stuff. I’m sorry, listen, that’s nothing intentionally done.”
Teams not being on a court or field during the national anthem is actually not rare across college athletics, including in the days before Colin Kaepernick started his protests against racial injustice after consulting with a former Green Beret about how to respectfully protest during the anthem.
The governor’s request was met with overall befuddlement from LSU and its administrators. Jimmy Clarke, the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors chair, told the Louisiana Illuminator, “I see some difficulties in trying to enforce something like that,” while the state’s commissioner of higher education, Kim Hunter Reed, noted that the board of regents plays no role in decisions about scholarships.
Meanwhile, an LSU spokesperson pointed out in a statement that both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have stayed in the locker room during the national anthem for a long time, preparing for the game instead:
“Our basketball programs have not been on the court for the anthem for the last several seasons. Usually the anthem is played 12 minutes before the game when the team is in the locker room doing final preparations.”
This isn’t the first time the national anthem has become political theater at LSU, as the Illuminator noted that unnamed Louisiana legislators threatened LSU’s funding of players who kneeled during the anthem like Kaepernick. Then-LSU president F. King Alexander responded by noting that the team stays in the locker room during the anthem.

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