The Bluefield College men’s basketball team was forced to forfeit its most recent game after school president David Olive suspended players for kneeling during the national anthem in January and early February.
Bluefield College president David Olive released a statement to ESPN saying he told players to stop kneeling, and when they wouldn’t listen, he decided to suspend all athletes involved, which resulted in a forfeit of the NAIA Appalachian Athletic Conference game against Reinhardt.
“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.
Olive became aware of players kneeling on Feb. 1 and immediately told coach Richard Morgan it wouldn’t be tolerated. Players ignored it and Morgan kept his team in the locker room during the playing of the anthem on Feb. 4th.
“I further told them that their intended message in bringing awareness of racial injustices was being diluted or completely lost because some saw their act of kneeling as being disrespectful to the flag, our country, and to our veterans,” Olive said. “In my opinion, their message was not being heard.”
Football player Jewels Gray, said Olive’s current message to the team reportedly contradicts what they were told earlier this season.
“Why would our school contradict what they said?” Gray told ESPN. “We had meetings before the season with (the athletic director) and the president, and they stated that we can kneel and they’d support and be behind us, 100 percent.”
Gray decided to support the basketball team and protest their suspension on Wednesday by walking out of practice.