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She may take a knee come time for Razorbacks’ coach’s raise, state rep threatens

In the game against South Carolina in March 2015, Arkansas Coach Jimmy Dykes talks to Jessica Jackson of Jacksonville. Ms. Jackson, a starter, remained standing during the National Anthem last week while six of her teammates knelt. (AP file photo by Danny Johnston)

Update: At the weekly fan luncheon in Fayetteville on Monday, Coach Jimmy Dykes refused to say whether his players would continue their protest. “Like everything else in our program, that’s day-to-day,” said Mr. Dykes, who took questions from fans but not from reporters, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

By Jay Grelen and Evin Demirel

AMP staff

State Representative Laurie Rushing wasn’t joking Thursday night when she tweeted that she “just might take a knee on UA funding” after six members of the Razorback women’s basketball team took a knee during the pre-game rendition of the national anthem.

For those who were wondering whether she might untweet, she instead followed up with another on Friday: “You stand for the Flag, and you kneel for the fallen!”

Mrs. Rushing, a first-term legislator who is a real-estate agent in Hot Springs, is upset with the athletic director and the women’s coach, she told AMP.

“Each year we have to approve the budget and include the salaries of all employees at UA,” she said. “I would vote against raising the salaries of (coach) Jimmy Dykes and (athletic director) Jeff Long – we control the budget, and we control how the money is allocated.

“They owe an apology to the people of Arkansas.”

Governor Asa Hutchinson offered a measured statement on his website: “By standing at attention when our national anthem is played, we show honor and respect to all of those who sacrificed everything to protect the freedoms we enjoy today – including the right to express our opinions. I hope to understand more fully the message these young ladies were trying to convey, but I would encourage student athletes to find ways to both respect the flag and to engage in public debate on issues they care about.”

Of the six players who refused to stand for the National Anthem and the military color guard, only one, Jailyn Mason of Mason, Ohio, started. The others who refused to stand, according to the Arkansas Razorbacks athletic department, were: Jordan Danberry of Conway;  Tatiyana Smith of Plano, Texas; Kiara Williams of Little Rock;  Yasmeen Ratliff of Alpharetta, Georgia;  and Briunna Freeman of Pelham, Georgia.

All six of the players are attending the University of Arkansas on full scholarship.

Mrs. Rushing supports the right of the women to protest, she said, just not while they are representing the state of Arkansas at state-supported university in a taxpayer-funded facility under the direction of tax-payer supported leaders.

“My issue is more with Coach Dykes and Athletic Director Long,” she said. “I have issues with them encouraging this type of behavior. When those girls put those uniforms on, they need to know they are representing the university and the people of Arkansas.

“At that point, they are taking taxpayer money, and they are making a statement with taxpayer money on how they stand and how they feel. When they take them off, they can protest all they want.”

A statewide hubbub erupted last night after six members of the Razorback women’s basketball team kneeled during a pre-game performance of the national anthem. “You all know that there’s been a lot of killings from police officers of African-Americans and other minorities,” Razorback Jordan Danberry, a Conway native, said after the game at Bud Walton Arena. “Me and my teammates took a knee today during the national anthem to speak for those who are oppressed. As Razorback student-athletes, we have a platform to do that.”

Mr. Dykes, and Mr. Long defended the players. “I am very, very proud of them,” Coach Dykes said. “They had very, very strong, well-informed, educated opinions based on their real-life experiences, their real-life emotions.”

A campus is a place of learning, Mr. Long said, “and thus places where differences of opinion and varying perspectives are recognized. We respect the rights of our student-athletes and all individuals to express themselves on important issues in our nation.”

State senators Jim Hendren and Jason Rapert were among those critical of the players. “Perhaps we reconsider the U of A budget since some in leadership don’t get it,” Mr. Rapert tweeted.

Jessica Jackson of Jacksonville, who started against Oklahoma Baptist University in the Razorback's exhibition game Thursday night, did not join her six teammates in kneeling during the National Anthem. (Photo by University of Arkansas)

Jessica Jackson of Jacksonville, who started against Oklahoma Baptist University in the Razorback’s exhibition game Thursday night, did not join her six teammates in kneeling during the National Anthem. (Photo by University of Arkansas)

About the author

Jay Grelen

30 Comments

  • If they lived in Russia they would be locked up or killed
    The US government has no control because everything is based on ethnic groups , all they do is complain about religion, race if you don’t like this country and what it stands for and all the people who died for this flag
    Then leave this country and see how life treats you

  • I have a problem with African-Americans saying they are still oppressed. The only oppression comes from their own people who want them to stay on the plantation – Liberal Democrats!
    If these girls fell oppressed, give the money back that they received as scholarships and join the Peace Corp if they want to be recognized or better yet join a branch of the service and serve our country and see if they have the same attitude. I hope the Lady Hogs have a disastrous season. Shame on Jimmy Dykes!

  • And maybe the voters of the state of Arkansas should reconsider their votes for the people that hold office and not want the students to express their rights. These politicians that said that they can vote to withhold the money that is allotted to the University because of six students vocing their opinion should not be holding State office. So next election VOTE THEM OUT!!!.

  • This article is spot on!! Very well written Mrs. Rushing. Common sense isn’t so common anymore. Thank you
    for standing up for what is right!

  • They are not saying they don’t have a right to protest. Just don’t do it when you are wearing a uniform that represents our State. They can protest when they are not wearing the uniform.

  • It worked at Tennessee and can work for Arkansas if the legislature has guts. After multiple idiotic statements coming from the diversity office, UT state legislators stood by their guns and defunded the diversity office, diverting their funds to minority scholarships. The Vice- Chancellor of Diversity Affairs was fired. The athletic director, Chancellor, and Provost were all “retired.” Does Arkansas want to follow this course or the disastrous course taken by Mizzou. Enrollment there has plummeted and university’s relationship with legislature are at low tide.

    • I have a bad feeling about MO after the stance that the school took endorsing their player’s actions for blm. Hope AR can do better.

  • This is all about discipline… our country has not been taught the importance of discipline, respect and understanding responsibilities. Full scholarships are fine, but when given them there is a duty and responsibly to act like men and women…

  • I respect everyone’s right to peacefully protest! Students are protected under the second amendment as we all are! It’s very disappointing to threaten a student in such a manor! How can anyone expect Coach Dykes to take away his students rights!!

  • Fire the Chancellor, AD and Coach, what in the world is going on in our country that many us fought for and many gave their lives for our freedom!! I will not be supporting them in any way!!!

    • Fire them for supporting the very freedom you’re upset at them for taking advantage of? That’s a very circular argument. Protests are supposed to make those in power uncomfortable, it’s exactly the point. The majority being upset at their manner of protest is simply proof that the protest is effective. If you and many on this post are more upset about your feelings about the flag than you are about people being killed without provocation then you simply don’t understand the ideals the flag is supposed to stand for. It’s far more respectful of those who died for our liberties to fight just as hard for them domestically as they did on foreign soil, than it is to worry about whether they choose to stand or kneel during the anthem. If people can’t understand that it’s your patriotism that should be called into question.

  • They are not protesting. They are disrespecting the memories of the people that fought for their right to protest. The national anthem was not made for the government that is taking your rights and making you feel “oppressed”. If I’m wrong then what did our armed men and women do to make you feel this way? It’s like BLM they might make a good point but why loot and burn your own neighborhoods to prove it.

  • Perhaps the coaches and the team need to participate in Wreaths Across America to understand what is really represented when they are in uniforms. They represent the University AND the state of Arkansas ….. which include thousands of veterans, many who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Yes…. they fought so those women could have the freedom to protest…. but perhaps we should be teaching these ladies about wisdom and consequences. As adults in the job world, when you misrepresent your company, that company has the right to terminate your employment. You make the decision on whether it’s that important or not. I am a veteran of the US Army …..and a taxpayer in the state of Arkansas. I fought for their right to protest……. if they feel that strongly. But they should also respect this AR Veteran’s right to be offended by their timing. Freedom isnt ” free” – it has cost in human lives. And freedom doesn’t mean lack of consequences, it means we have a choice! In every fight – timing is key. They choose the wrong time.

  • She does not speak for me as a member of Arkansas. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and modes of protest. There are thousands of students on scholarships, Pell grants, and loans. Are you going to pull funding for all schools who have students that protest? Come on!

  • Southern mindset has always been lost in a time warp as far as rights go. You say they should stand while in uniform and do as they please on their own time. From day one of being involved in organized sports, we were always warned that we were represent our school on and off the court/field. These double standards not only sending mixed signal but you’re asking individuals to stand with the majority in your eyesight whether they believe in what they’re standing for or not. Even tho state money pay for their scholarships it was the individuals hardwork/dedication that earned it. Standing for anything reflects that you don’t stand for nothing; but what the people expect. Technically black Americans such as Martin Luther King Rosa Parks etc. fought for our freedom seeing that “All Lives Didn’t Matter” until its to you guys benefit. Just because you don’t agree with these ladies, especially the ones that are not from the south, doesn’t mean they’re wrong and IT IS ok to agree to disagree. Stop trying to prune the tree and deal with the underlying issues if you really wanna get to the “root” of the problem. Like we’ve always been told, GET OVER IT!!!

    • Take the scholarships away from these out of state people and in state people who are disrespecting fallen soldiers. They are free to give and free to take away. Live with the consequences of your decisions.

  • Any student that is getting their tuition pay and they take any they should be have to pay their own way my men and women fight and die for their right I pay their way the least you can do is taking me if they’re too lazy and too sorry and I want my money back and I want them to have to repay every dime the school gave them excuse me I gave them

    • You are full of it, They are at that God Awful under performing school because they were offered a scholarship to play. They did not go to Arkansas and force them to offer a scholarship. They are putting in time maintain that scholarship; UA can take that at anytime, in this case ladies sports, scholarships are awarded on a yearly base. Let’s cut your mindless I pay for it, stop it you sound stupid!!!

  • “Mr. Dykes, and Mr. Long defended the players. ‘I am very, very proud of them,’ Coach Dykes said. ‘They had very, very strong, well-informed, educated opinions based on their real-life experiences, their real-life emotions.”

    As the University of Arkansas is a place of higher education and learning, and being a member of a SEC athletic team is a high profile position, I hope Mr. Dykes and Mr. Long will provide these members an adequate avenue to explore their “well-informed and educated opinions” and then appropriately share those opinions for a factual examination by the public. Maybe these players do have a legitimate story to share, or they may learn their “well-informed and educated opinions” are miss-informed and non-educated. The players have completed the easy part, they have drawn attention to themselves and the university. Now is time for them to stand up and educate the supporters of the University of Arkansas of specifically why they knelt.

    I suspect after a careful evaluation these ladies will find Law Enforcement Officers are the victims of much more violence from the community’s they serve than these ladies ever dreamed.

    • I am not surprised by your comments and definitely nit surprised that you feel these young wimen are not entitled to their opinions. So what if they disagree with your “opinion” that law enforcement officers suffer more at the hands of the people they are sworn and paid to protect than their victims, OOOPPPSSS, I mean civilians. Should your opinion carry more weight than theirs. If I was these young ladies and all the threats were made concerning withholding raises, funding, and scholarships, I would take my unwanted opinions elsewhere. Let the university award their scholarships to a bunch of superstars from the local schools in the hills of Arkansas and from northern Arkansas and see how much national attention and money from the ticket box they receive. If one of these young ladies were a child of Rushings, she would be the first to say, “While I may not share your opinion, I applaud you willingness to stand up for that which you believe.” Young ladies repay the state for your educational scholarships that I paid more taxes to secure for for you than Rushing and her croonies by becoming smarter, more open-mind, and intelligent than those threatening artfacts know as Arkansas Senators and Congress persons. Way to go!

    • That’s right I would like to hear the stories of these disadvantaged and oppressed individuals who are disrespecting our fallen heroes. I say take the free money away and let them see disadvantaged.

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