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Virginia NAIA College Suspends Basketball Players for Kneeling

February 13, 2021 / Athletic AdministrationBasketballCoaching
A Virginia-based National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school forfeited its scheduled game following the suspension of multiple players for previously kneeling during the national anthem.

According to reports from CBS-17, Bluefield College players knelt during multiple games since the new year — even after Bluefield president David Olive had asked them to stop, according to a statement he released on Thursday. When players continued to kneel after Olive’s request, he suspended all student-athletes involved, resulting in a forfeit of the NAIA Division II Appalachian Athletic Conference against Reinhardt.

virginia“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 said in the statement.

CBS-17 reported that Olive’s decision came after seeing reports of the team’s actions on a local TV news broadcast.

“During the home basketball game against Bryan College on Saturday, Jan. 30, the men’s team members kneeled during the National Anthem, and a local television station captured their actions on video that later aired during the 11:00 PM news report. The station requested comment from the College, and a statement was prepared and released to the television station without any notification or involvement with the Director of Public Relations and Marketing or me,” he continued in his statement.

Players, students, and alumni of Virginia NAIA school have sided with the basketball team, including Jewels Gray, a Bluefield football player who took to Twitter to show his sign of support. As of Saturday, February 13, the post had received nearly 400 retweets and 1,500 likes.

“While we could not reconcile their desire to kneel during the anthem with the College’s policy prohibiting that practice, we discussed options, such as staying in the locker room, to avoid consequences related to kneeling on the court during the anthem,” Olive said in the statement. “As I conveyed this to VP Walker and Coach Morgan, I denoted that anytime a student-athlete puts on a jersey that says “Bluefield College” on it, the message is no longer just the student athlete’s message but that it becomes the message of Bluefield College. Pointing to the already fractured and divided nature of our country, I did not want Bluefield College contributing to the further divide; rather, I wanted the College to bring people together in a united effort to address issues of racial injustice.”

To read the entire statement from David Olive, president of the Virginia-based Bluefield College, click here