As a pro-Confederate rally marched through Oxford on Saturday, members of the Ole Miss men’s basketball team took a knee during the national anthem. At least six players took a knee before Ole Miss faced off against Georgia.
Following the contest, coach Kermit Davis and a few Ole Miss players confirmed members of the team knelt to protest that rally.
"We are tired of these hate groups coming to our school and portraying our campus like it is our actual university having these hate groups. The majority of it was we saw one of our teammates doing it and we didn't want him to be alone," Breein Tyree said.
— Brian Scott Rippee (@bsrippee) February 23, 2019
Davis told reporters he was not aware his players would kneel before the game. Guard Breein Tyree said he did not anticipate the kneeling would become a multi-game thing.
Two pro-Confederate groups — Confederate 901 and Hiwaymen — held a protest to express their disappointment that Ole Miss will no longer use Colonel Reb as its mascot, according to Nick Suss of the Clarion Ledger.
The rally started in downtown Oxford — the city where Ole Miss is located — and ended on Ole Miss’ campus at a monument to unnamed Confederate soldiers.
Roughly 75 protestors gathered prior to the march, according to Suss. They began the march by chanting “God bless Dixie.” The rally was met by counter-protestors who chanted “who lost the war? You lost the war.”
Ole Miss knew about the protest, but still decided to go through with Saturday’s game. The university advised students to stay away from the rally, according to Suss.
The decision to kneel during the national anthem — no matter what the motive — was not done lightly. When he was hired in 2018, Davis said his players would respect the flag, according to Sports Illustrated.
“We’re going to be a respectful team that respects the flag and the national anthem. All those things from culture is what we’re about. It’s who we’re going to be,” Davis said.
Based on his comments Saturday, Davis had no problem with his players taking a knee Saturday.
Ole Miss narrowly won the contest, beating Georgia 72-71.
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