A member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents wants Nebraska players Michael Rose-Ivey, DaiShon Neal and Mohamed Barry kicked off the team for kneeling during the national anthem last weekend, according to a story posted Tuesday by the Lincoln Journal Star.
Regent Hal Daub, the former mayor of Omaha, told the Journal Star the players are “not supposed to do things like that.”
“It’s a free country,” Daub added. “They don’t have to play football for the university either.”
Rose-Ivey gave a speech on Monday during a press conference in which he explained why he and his teammates kneeled during the national anthem before the Northwestern game on Saturday. Rose-Ivey also mentioned he received death threats after the game for kneeling.
“People want athletes like DaiShon, Mohamed and myself to remain silent and just play football,” Rose-Ivey said. “However we cannot ignore the lives that we’ve lived. And we as black athletes cannot remain silent. We are fully aware that football consumes only a small part of our lives, as we are often reminded football doesn’t last forever.”
Daub disagreed, and made his boldest statement about the players.
“They know better, and they had better be kicked off the team,” he said. “They won’t take the risk to exhibit their free speech in a way that places their circumstance in jeopardy, so let them get out of uniform and do their protesting on somebody else’s nickel.”
Nebraska coach Mike Riley said on Tuesday during the Big Ten coaches teleconference that those who disagree should be reminded that “this is America,” and the athletes should be respected for what they did.
“I have 140 kids on the football team and they’re all different in their own beautiful way,” Riley said. “And people should be reminded this is America and we have the opportunity and right to basically say what we feel and how we feel and why we’re feeling that way. I think Mike did a great job of that and he should be respected for that.”
Daub, however, added his own thoughts about the rights Riley referenced.
“Anything you do with respect to the First Amendment, you run a risk,” Daub told the Journal Star. “Right or wrong, you can hide behind the First Amendment all day long.”
Daub told the Journal Star he has been in contact with university leaders, but would only say “time will tell” when it comes to what those conversations are about or any actions they may lead to.
Meanwhile, another regent, Rob Schafer of Beatrice, also disagreed with the players’ actions, telling the Journal Star that athletics at Nebraska are “a unifying source of pride for our state that should not be used as a forum for political or social debate.”
“I do not support the venue these student-athletes chose to express their political or social viewpoint,” said Schafer, whom the Journal Star identified as a “current lieutenant colonel in the Nebraska Air National Guard with more than 31 years of military experience.”
University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds said in a statement on Tuesday he supports the players’ right to protest.
When contacted by Land of 10, university spokesperson Steve Smith declined to comment any further on the matter.