Albright College, a D-III school in Pennsylvania, announced on Monday that it offered reinstatement to the three football players it previously dismissed from the team for not participating in the school’s neutered version of the nationwide protests against police brutality.
The announcement from Albright president Jacquelyn Fetrow comes just six days after the school announced the suspension of Gyree Durante, who knelt during the anthem after the football team’s leadership council allegedly voted for the entire team to kneel during the coin toss and stand during the anthem in order to make the protest more palatable for its fans. The school also suspended two unnamed players, who opted not to kneel with the team during the coin toss for unspecified but fairly guessable reasons.
In her statement, Fetrow said that the suspensions of all three players were overturned after the school looked into the voting process and found what any reasonable person would have—that suspending players for not going along with a hastily conceived plan is a bad idea. Here’s that in administrator speak:
Ongoing review of the details surrounding the game’s events has provided greater clarity. What we understood to be shared agreement among players, student leaders, and coaches has not been adequately supported. As a result, each of the students dismissed from the football team for failure to comply with the team’s shared agreement established for that day has been offered reinstatement to the team.
Durante told the Reading Eagle last weekend that he knew the risk he took when he decided to buck the leadership council’s decision, adding that, “at the end of the day, I had to do what I thought was right and I have no regrets.” As of Saturday, Durante said he intends on transferring from Albright—he claimed it was not related to the protest or his dismissal, saying only that the reaction from school leaders made the decision easier. The other two players have not yet said publicly whether they intend to take the school up on its offer of reinstatement.
Durante’s steadfastness in both taking the knee despite knowing the likely outcome and then defending that decision on his terms serves as a stark contrast to the dry statements that have been issued by the school’s leadership. Just as a reminder, this, per the Eagle, was the response from the administration and head football coach when they were first asked why Durante and his two former teammates were booted from the team.
“This action, which was supported by the coaching staff, was created as an expression of team unity and out of the mutual respect team members have for one another and the value they place on their differences,” she wrote. “It was established as a way to find common ground in a world with many differing views.”
“One football player, who unbeknownst to the coach and the team, chose not to support team unity and has been dismissed from the team,” she wrote. “He remains a valued member of the Albright College student body.”
“We trusted him throughout the week, after time and time again he told us he would stand,” Powell said. “When you can’t have a player on a team that you can trust, he’s got to go.”
Doing the right thing after you’ve been shouted at to do the right thing isn’t noble; standing up for what you believe in, even when you know your employer will fire you for it, is.