Kansas State athletes join protest over student’s George Floyd tweet

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Some Kansas State athletes were among about 100 people who protested this weekend over an insensitive tweet by a student about the death of George Floyd.

Those attending the rally in Manhattan, Kansas, on Saturday said the university administration’s promise to launch initiatives to address racial injustice at the school did not go far enough, according to The Wichita Eagle.

“We need to create better policies that punish students that think it’s OK to say these kinds of things,” soccer player Emily Crain said. “I think what [protest organizers] said today was really important. It doesn’t stop here. This needs to continue. The action plan that our university made isn’t going to be enough.”

In late June — one month after Floyd died when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the Black, handcuffed man’s neck — Kansas State student Jaden McNeil tweeted: “Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!”

The tweet led to an uproar among students, with several football players and other athletes threatening to boycott if the university didn’t take any action.

The school responded last week by launching a diversity and education fund. Among other initiatives, Kansas State promised that athletes, coaches and staff would undergo mandatory diversity and inclusion training that includes monthly town hall sessions; redouble efforts to recruit applicants from diverse backgrounds for staff and coaching positions; use home games to support the Black Lives Matter movement; highlight Black History Month; and provide transportation to athletes to voting locations on Election Day.

University president Richard Myers wrote in an open letter Wednesday that the commitment amounted to “measurable action with concrete steps,” but he underscored that the administration did not have the power to expel the student behind the tweet.

“While these messages are disrespectful and abhorrent, we cannot violate the law,” Myers said.

The football team hailed the university’s planned action, lifted the boycott threat and vowed to return to training.

Soccer player Maguire Sullivan said Saturday that she is proud Kansas State athletes are playing a role in racial reform at the university.

“I don’t think it should take athletes taking a stand for there to be change on this campus,” Sullivan said. “It shouldn’t have to be addressed by student-athletes. I’m glad they are using their platform, but I think change should occur without players threatening not to play next season.”

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