Nebraska coach, chancellor apologize after fans jeer anthem kneelers

The Chancellor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln apologized  after fans heckled visiting University of Maryland players for kneeling during the national anthem. 

Before the start of the early November game, a number of Maryland players took a knee while the national anthem was sung, according to the North Platte Telegraph

In response, Nebraska fans reportedly shouted at the players.

“Before a guy got ready to sing the national anthem, a fan in the crowd yelled ‘stand up you piece of trash’ towards our players who were kneeling,” Sam Csire, Outside Hitter for Maryland, told Campus Reform. “It was very silent in the arena and it was clear to hear.”

“After the match ended,” Csire said, “a few players went up to Rainelle [Jones] (our player) and apologized.” 

Csire added, “it’s sad that Rainelle got verbally hated for something she was standing for silently.”

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Kaylee Thomas, one of the Maryland students who took a knee at the game, described the experience for Campus Reform. 

“Rainelle Jones, Maddie Nauman and myself kneel during the anthem to protest and show our support to the BLM movement,” Thomas said, “and when we did, one of the fans yelled out, ‘stand up, you piece of trash.’ It was certainly a reminder that what we are protesting and trying to bring awareness to has not gone away!”

In the post-game press conference, Coach John Cook said, “I just don’t think that’s our fans’ place to say things during a match. It’s putting judgment on the other team, and this is a volleyball match. We’re not here to do that. So I’m a little disappointed that happened. And our players apologized to the Maryland players after the match. There are other ways to express people’s opinions, but not right after ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and introductions.”

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“I was at the game and was disappointed,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said in a statement. “It was a very unfortunate incident. People are free to believe whatever they want. But Nebraska is known for the respect we show to visiting teams and their student athletes, and I would ask our fans to continue to display that respect.”

Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Trev Alberts also commented, adding, “I would echo Coach Cook’s comments from last night after the match. I am disappointed that some of our fans would react that way and apologize to the Maryland volleyball program. Our athletic events at Nebraska should always be a place where people can come together to enjoy great competition in a respectful environment.”

The Maryland Athletics department did not respond to a request for comment.