State’s Governor Demands Student Athletes Stand for National Anthem

( – On April 1, the Louisiana State University (LSU) women’s basketball team played in the NCAA Elite Eight Tournament against Iowa State University. Though they played well, the governor of Louisiana has called the team out for not appearing on court during the national anthem.

Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry shared a post on social media criticizing the LSU team for being absent during the national anthem. He pointed out that his mother was a coach for women’s basketball during desegregation and he has a deep respect for the sport, as well as LSU’s coach, Kim Mulkey. However, he added that he has an even greater respect for the flag and those who serve and die for it. Landry went so far as to suggest that college boards and regents create a policy requiring student athletes to be present for the national anthem or risk losing their athletic scholarships.

Coach Mulkey, however, said their absence from the court during the national anthem was not deliberate. She explained that the team has a routine that involves going back to the locker room before the game begins so they can finish their pregame preparations there. Mulkey said she didn’t know when they played the national anthem and apologized for the team’s absence.

Many college administrators, specifically those at LSU, did not agree with Governor Landry’s suggestion that athletes lose their scholarships if they don’t appear on court for the anthem. The chair of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors, Jimmy Clarke, spoke to a local newspaper and said he believes that enforcing such a policy would be difficult for several reasons. Kim Hunter Reed, the Louisiana commissioner of higher education, pointed out that the board of regents do not control or make decisions about the scholarships of any students.

A spokesperson for LSU released a statement noting that both the men’s and women’s basketball teams typically return to the locker room for final game preparations while the national anthem is being played.

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