After several instances of kneeling during the national anthem before games, players on the Bluefield College basketball team have been sanctioned with one-game suspensions. David Olive, president of the Virginia-based college, issued a statement in anticipation of questions from the student body regarding his decision.
Olive stated that the team first knelt during the anthem at a game with Bryan College on January 30. When he was notified a few days later, he immediately requested a meeting with Coach Richard Morgan and Vice President Tonia Walker.
During the discussion, Olive instructed Morgan to tell his team that this form of protest is prohibited. He explained that when an athlete dons the Bluefield jersey, anything he does will be a reflection of the school.
“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 wrote.
However, players ignored the prohibition, again kneeling during the national anthem before their game with Truett McConnell University on February 2. Another meeting with the team was scheduled and alternatives deemed “constructive” were proposed and seemingly agreed upon. But when the team chose to kneel yet again during a home game on February 9, Olive gathered a meeting of school authorities to decide upon a sanction.
“I understand the perspective of our players as to why they desire to kneel during the National Anthem. 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.
The suspension has resulted in the Bluefield College basketball team forfeiting a scheduled game with Reinhardt.