In the face of disparaging comments from several of Nebraska’s current and former high-ranking public officials, University of Nebraska senior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey managed to garner some in-house support prior to his upcoming sit-down with governor Pete Ricketts.
Nebraska president Hank Bounds wrote and published an open letter to the Cornhusker fanbase Wednesday, making clear his support of Rose-Ivey’s decision to exercise his right to protest prior to Saturday’s game against Illinois. Bounds served in the Army National Guard during his college years; he cited his service and the pride he has for the United State in the letter, while simultaneously making clear the university will not punish Rose-Ivey or teammates Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal for taking action well within their Constitutional rights. You can read the letter in full here.
I have served in the military. I understand love of country and love of the flag and I know that freedom is not free. I recognize that some are upset by what they saw on Saturday night. But let me be clear. The University of Nebraska will not restrict the First Amendment rights of any student or employee. Our position on this issue is abundantly clear. As stated in Board of Regents policy, which has been in place for almost a half-century: “Members of the academic community have the right to extensive latitude in making their opinions known… The public exploration and resolution of differing views can be successful only when groups and individuals discuss the issues in forums where the right to disagree, speak freely and be heard is preserved.”
The support from Bounds, along with that of head coach Mike Riley, stands in stark contrast to the views issued by several other state employees. Ricketts and regents Jim Pillen and Hal Daub, who is also a former member of U.S. Congress, condemned the trio for kneeling. Ricketts called the trio’s action “disgraceful and disrespectful,” on his radio show; Daub called for the group’s removal from the team (and then recanted that position later); Pillen spouted off a take suggesting the athletes make their stand with cash instead of distracting the football team, per ESPN:
“I’m a believer in the team above all single or group agendas,” Pillen said. “When you place yourself above team, team doesn’t work. If there were three other guys who have another cause, and they were also going to use [the game] as a platform. ... I don’t think anybody should put their convictions above team.”
Pillen added, “I’m 100 percent behind supporting their critical thinking and taking a stand, and I would encourage them to put their money where it is now and be engaged — but not by taking a knee.”