East Carolina came to national attention before their game against Central Florida on Saturday, as 19 members of their marching band took a knee during the national anthem as a continuation of the Colin Kaepernick-like protests happening across the nation.
The home fans weren’t pleased, and they booed the band off the field after the performance.
After the criticism from the home fans, East Carolina Chancellor Cecil Staton came to the defense of the band members, saying that East Carolina will “safeguard the right to free speech”.
On Monday, though, East Carolina’s athletic bands and School of Music directors released a statement saying that the protests would no longer be tolerated.
From CBS North Carolina:
We regret the actions taken by 19 members of the East Carolina University Marching Pirates on game day October 1st felt hurtful to many in our Pirate family and disrespectful to our country. We understand and respect this is an issue where emotions are strong.
College is about learning, and it is our expectation that the members of the Marching Pirates will learn from this experience and fulfill their responsibilities. While we affirm the right of all our students to express their opinions, protests of this nature by the Marching Pirates will not be tolerated moving forward.
This is definitely a unique approach by East Carolina on the protests, and definitely a stark contrast to what the Chancellor had said on Saturday. This is also a unique situation, as most schools and teams so far have had to deal with players protesting; the East Carolina situation is different, as the band is expected to perform the national anthem before the game. Some band members still played from the kneeled position, but others chose not to play.
East Carolina won’t have another home game until October 13. It will be interesting to see if the band follows in accord with the most recent statement above, or if members still decide to protest during the anthem.