The president of Wayne State University publicly disagreed with an ambiguous statement from the school’s athletic director on football players’ right to kneel during the national anthem.
The Detroit Free Press recently conducted an informal survey of 12 Michigan college football programs, asking if they supported student-athletes kneeling as part of protests against racism, injustice and police brutality. The Free Press said a majority of the schools, including Michigan and Michigan State, showed support for that form of protest.
However, Rob Fournier, who is entering his 20th year as Wayne State’s athletic director, responded by saying “Student-athletes, when they put on the jersey, recognize they are representing a university and not themselves. In competition, we work and strive for success as a team.”
Wayne State president M. Roy Wilson responded Wednesday, according to the Free Press. Wilson said that Fournier doesn’t speak for the public university in Detroit, which Wilson says is in full support of player protests.
"A recent statement by our athletic director has been construed by some to represent the university’s position on the right of athletes to participate in protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement," Wilson said. "This is understandable, as the statement did not directly answer the question at hand.
"There should be no confusion on this issue: Wayne State University strongly supports free speech and the right of our players to peacefully demonstrate in support of social justice — both in and out of uniform. The decision of whether to stand or kneel during the anthem belongs to the individual player, and we support them in either case.
"The time for change is now, and our university will both participate in that change and support others who stand for social justice."