Governor Wants Punishments for Players Who Miss Anthem

LSU says its teams stay in the locker room to prepare
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2024 4:45 PM CDT
Governor Wants Scholarships in Play When Teams Skip Anthem
LSU head coach Kim Mulkey reacts during the fourth quarter of an Elite Eight round college basketball game against Iowa during the NCAA Tournament on Monday in Albany, N.Y.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Although the coach and athletic department said the LSU women's basketball team didn't do anything different before Monday's high-profile game, Louisiana's governor has called for punishing players who aren't on the court when the national anthem is played. Republican Gov. Jeff Landry posted on X that he respects the team's head coach, Kim Mulkey, but said changes are needed, the Guardian reports. College boards, including LSU's regents, Landry said, should "put a policy in place that student-athletes be present for the national anthem or risk their athletic scholarship! This is a matter of respect that all collegiate coaches should instill."

The defending national champions were not on the court when the anthem was played Monday during pregame ceremonies for their Elite Eight game against Iowa, a 94-87 loss. "Honestly, I don't even know when the anthem was played," Mulkey said after the game. Mulkey said her team's absence wasn't a protest. "We kind of have a routine when they're on the floor and they come off at the 12-minute mark," she said. "I don't know, we come in and we do our pre-game stuff. I'm sorry, listen, that's nothing intentionally done." A statement by the athletic department said its teams are preparing for the game then. "Our basketball programs have not been on the court for the anthem for the last several seasons," it said.

In the other game played Monday, neither USC or UConn were on the floor when the "Star-Spangled Banner" was played. But LSU appeared to be the subject of the most online outrage, per Penn Live. Landry took office in January after being backed in the GOP primary by Donald Trump, who has made an issue of athletes kneeling during the anthem. The LSU statement suggested its men's team has followed the same schedule. (More national anthem stories.)

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