Bluefield College lost a men’s basketball game Thursday after NAIA suspended several players for kneeling during the pre-match national anthem over the past two months. School head David Olive revealed that he had asked the squad to stop kneeling before matches.
When the players refused, Olive made the decision to suspend the players who chose to kneel and this resulted in the team’s match against Reinhardt University.
“The basis of my decision stemmed from my own awareness of how some perceived kneeling in our country, and I did not think that a number of our alumni, friends and college donors would witness the kneeling process while the national anthem was playing in a positive way,” Zaitoun He said in a statement.
Olive spoke with the players, coaches, and sports director of the school, Tonya Walker, about kneeling during the national anthem. Even after those discussions, he still made the decision to suspend players for their actions.
Olive was not initially aware that the players were kneeling while the national anthem was being played. However, on February 1, he realized the fact that the players had knelt in the previous three matches, two of which were on the way. After learning about his recent state of kneeling, Olive spoke with coach Richard Morgan and told him that kneeling during the National Anthem would not be tolerated.
After Olive made his announcement to the team, Bluefield College players chose to ignore Olive’s order. On February 4, Morgan made the decision to keep his team in the locker room while the national anthem was being played in an effort to avoid backlash.
“I also told them that their intended message of spreading awareness of racial injustice had been weakened or lost altogether because some saw their work in kneeling as disrespecting the flag, our country, and our veterans,” Olive said in the statement. “In my opinion, you did not hear their message.”
The team recently knelt ahead of Tuesday’s game against Tennessee Wesleyan. After the match, Olive told Morgan that the players would face “consequences”.