Oklahoma coaches support athletes’ protests against racism. UO’s Dana Altman, not so much.

3/15/2015: From InsideHigherEd.com, here:

This article contains explicit and potentially offensive terms that are essential to reporting on this situation.

Instead of practicing on Thursday, University of Oklahoma football players held a silent demonstration protesting the behavior of an Oklahoma fraternity that was caught on video using racist slurs while singing about not allowing black members to join the fraternity. In a statement, the football players said the video is a symptom of “a larger disease,” and called on the university to investigate and “severely discipline” responsible members of the chapter’s executive board. Two students who were seen leading the chant have already been expelled.

“The chant was not invented by the two that led it, but taught to underclassmen by people of higher authority,” the players stated. “As a team, we have come to a consensus that, in any organization, the leadership is responsible for the culture created, and in this case, encouraged.”

In an apology released by his father earlier this week, one of the expelled SAE members stated that the racist song “was taught to us.”

The football players’ statement, released on Twitter by the team’s quarterback, is one of several public responses athletes have made to the video this week. A football recruit who had committed to play at Oklahoma on Monday tweeted that he was withdrawing his commitment, and a current linebacker for Oklahoma, Eric Striker, sent a video through Snapchat furiously calling out members of SAE and other fraternities who cheer on black players when they’re on the field, only to sing racist songs behind their backs. “Same motherfuckers that talk about racism doesn’t exist are the same motherfuckers shaking our hands, giving us hugs, telling us how you really love us,” Striker said. “Fuck you phony-ass, fraud-ass bitches.”

In their statement Thursday, the players thanked the team’s coaching staff for “supporting each and every action we have taken, even when these actions may have seemed extreme.”

Of course the coaches, and the players, are not exactly saints. From Reason:

University of Oklahoma President David Boren expelled two students for racist chanting, ostensibly because the school has an unofficial zero tolerance policy on racism. But Boren had plenty of tolerance for OU football players who committed violence against women and were allowed, not merely to remain at the university, but also to rejoin the football team.

The Daily Caller News Foundation‘s Blake Neff notes that last year, freshman Joe Mixon was caught on tape punching a female student in the face. He knocked her unconscious and broke four of her facial bones. He was later convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge.

What did the university do? According to Neff:

Despite his conviction, Mixon faced a comparatively light punishment compared to the massive crackdown on the Sigma Alpha Epsilon students. He was suspended from the team for the season, but faced no other repercussions, remaining on campus and continuing to attend classes like any other student.

In February, Mixon was allowed to rejoin the football team.

Boren, at the time, said that while Mixon’s behavior was abhorrent, it was important to grant second chances.

12/10/2014: Coach Dana Altman thinks National Anthem is the wrong time to protest racism

Our fool of a basketball coach thinks he owns those players. They shouldn’t protest when he’s trying to collect his $2M paycheck, off their free labor. Fortunately we’ve still got people who hear someone sing “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave” and actually understand what it means.

Want to ask the players what they think? No. Duck AD Rob Mullens and his PR guy Craig Pintens have a rule about players talking to reporters without permission, and “Benjamin and Bell have not been made available to comment.”

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13 Responses to Oklahoma coaches support athletes’ protests against racism. UO’s Dana Altman, not so much.

  1. GTF Since '09 says:

    What the ever-effing eff. Who knew my contempt for this man could grow? I’m proud of these student athletes, and I only saw this story shared or mentioned in a positive light. I hope they continue speaking out or standing up, even if white men with influence try to tell them it’s not “respectable” or “appropriate.”

    Screw Altman’s definition of those words. Does he know what these young mens’ lives are like? There are so many people, programs, and organizations on this campus that work on social justice issues. Plenty of grad students come here to be a part of that work. To those of us who get it, this is a beautiful image, and one that I’m proud to see associated with our institution. (Which is a nice but dissonant feeling in times such as these.)

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  2. Andy Stahl says:

    More evidence, as if we needed it, that UO treats its athletes as employees, except when it comes to paying them commensurate with their value to their employer.

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  3. GTF what the what says:

    After everything that has happened in the last week (month, year …) that has made me embarrassed to be earning my degree here, this image helped to restore some of the pride I had. And then Altman comes along and effing ruins it. So angry.
    How can we support these players? Can we be assured they will not be disciplined for daring to have a non-violent and respectful moment of protest?

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    • Pou says:

      Maybe this could become a thing for the spectators? It would be great to see the student section raise their hands in solidarity at the next home game…

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  4. Krantander says:

    Don’t worry, I’m sure that after “inappropriate” behavior such as this, the players will be quietly kicked off the team just as soon as the season is over.

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  5. Old Man says:

    Friends,
    There is a sure and honorable way to put a stop to such demonstrations — don’t play the National Anthem at athletic contests.

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    • uomatters says:

      Or play America the Beautiful, not much to protest expect the god bit. Really it should be Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is your Land”.

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      • charlie says:

        Pink Floyd’s “Money” is vastly more appropriate….

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  6. charlie says:

    What do you expect from an institution built on spectacle, public relations bullshit, perception management and making itself camera ready?

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    • charlie says:

      Not the players, I mean the response from the admins.

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    • Cynic says:

      To Charlie, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but there are hundreds, if not thousands of Folfs at the UO who work every day at providing the best educational experience or students. the UO delivers the heist graduation rate in the state while providing the least expensive education to the neediest students in the state, notwithstanding all the bs.s. Hoopla around everything else. And this from a cynic.

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  7. FormerGTF says:

    this is still – by far – the most poignant, appropriate, and eloquent response to the UO kerfuffle (foul language warning): http://deadspin.com/oklahoma-lb-eric-striker-to-racist-frat-boys-fuck-all-1690295005

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    • FormerGTF says:

      er, I meant OU, but you get the idea. though I suspect the same sentiment could easily be leveled at the UO administration and fans. And the OU frat boys were pretty tame compared to some of the invective I overheard in the student section after LaMichael James fumbled against USC in 2011.

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