Another college protests Nike ad by removing its goods from campus store
- Truett McConnell University, a Christian liberal arts college in Georgia, is ending its relationship with Nike over the firm's controversial advertisement featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, CBS News reported. The university will stop selling Nike products in its campus store and donate the proceeds from existing inventory to charity.
- President Emir Caner said in a statement that using Kaepernick in the ad was "reprehensible" and that the athlete was "mocking" troops and law enforcement. Kaepernick was the first NFL player to sit or kneel during the national anthem, an act that was widely praised, criticized and publicized. Caner said Truett McConnell will reconsider its decision if Nike "chooses to apologize to our troops and to our law enforcement officers."
- Another private Christian college, the College of the Ozarks, in Missouri, said earlier this month that it was getting rid of sports uniforms with the Nike logo, according to CBS News. Its competition contracts also stipulate that its athletic teams will leave games during which the opposing team kneels, sits or turns away from the anthem or flag.
The ad, which was introduced earlier this month, features Kaepernick as narrator, saying, "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything." He also says, "If people say your dreams are crazy, if they laugh at what you think you can do, good."
Kaepernick's silent protest of police brutality and other discrimination against people of color spurred similar actions by secondary and postsecondary student-athletes across the country. The New Yorker published a detailed profile of the football team at Gallaudet University, a college for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, describing how players on the team struggled with a decision about whether to kneel during the national anthem but agreed to let each individual decide.
An informal survey of 22 college football players in the Big 12 conference found that a majority favored the act of kneeling and that the issue is on the mind of student-athletes. Most of the protests have occurred in the NFL, though student-athletes at some colleges are also participating. Administrators have cracked down in a few instances, banning such protests and kicking players off teams.
This joins the ongoing debate over whether college officials have the right to limit free speech on campus, which extends to issues including controversial speakers and messages distributed by students. It is expected to continue to be a critical issue for college administrators this academic year.