MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) – Kansas State University is revising the options after a student tweeted about George Floyd’s death sparked outrage among several students, including two footballers who threatened to leave, the school president said Friday.
On Thursday, a month since a black man, Floyd, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee for almost eight minutes, student Jaden McNeil tweeted, “Congratulations to George Floyd for being drug-free for a whole month!”
University President Richard Myers said on Friday that “statements about division are not representative of our university’s values.”
“We condemn racism and bigotry in all its forms,” Myers said. “We are launching an immediate review of the university’s options. Black Lives Matter at Kansas State University and we will continue to fight for social justice.”
McNeil describes himself as the founder of a conservative group called America First Students, which Kansas State says is not currently registered on campus due to a lack of membership. America First Students had already drawn student anger for earlier statements from McNeil. Students released a video last week under the hashtag #BlackAtKState and requested that America First Students be removed from campus. And a petition has been circulated on Twitter asking that the group be banned from campus for spreading ‘hateful rhetoric,’ The Manhattan Mercury reported.
McNeil did not respond to a message to America First Students asking for comment Friday. He said earlier that America First Students is a “regular, Christian, conservative organization that supports President Donald Trump.”
Kansas State spokesman Jeff Morris said America First Students is not currently registered on campus. He said independent student organizations should have at least five members and renew registration every year, The Kansas City Star reported.
Wide receiver Joshua Youngblood and defensive back Walter Neil Jr. both tweet that they wouldn’t be playing for the school unless McNeil is removed from campus, although Youngblood has since removed his tweet. Several other players have posted tweets criticizing McNeil.
Athletic director Gene Taylor and football coach Chris Klieman both criticized McNeil’s tweet saying they wouldn’t tolerate racial hatred on campus.
“Our program and our coaches will continue to be part of the solution when it comes to racial injustice,” Klieman wrote in a tweet. “I love our players and they know I have their back.”
College athletes across the country have used their influence to pursue social justice since Floyd’s death.
On June 3, athletes and coaches from the University of Missouri walked with the police and other administrators to the Boone County Courthouse and knelt in honor of Floyd, before 62 football players signed up to vote. That came on a campus where a lot of controversy and demonstrations broke out about the treatment of minorities on campus five years ago. Several members of the football team threatened to boycott until the then president of the school resigned.
McNeil received several tweets of support on Friday, including from conservative syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin.
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