Manhattan, Kan. – Kansas State football players have called off a threatened boycott in response to an insensitive tweet by a student about the death of George Floyd.
The decision, announced on social media by several players, follows moves by the school to address diversity concerns.
“We appreciate the diligent work of our university and athletics administration as we work through these important issues,” according to the letter posted on Twitter. “The plans and action items released Wednesday are great first steps in our goal of defeating hate and racism on our campus, and therefore, we have decided to return to workouts with our teammates.
“However, we know that this process is far from completed, and should it slow or diminish for any reason we would re-evaluate the situation and our options at that time.”
Kansas State players aren’t currently participating in any practices or workouts because team activities were suspended earlier this month after a coronavirus outbreak within the team. Summer workouts are expected to resume July 13.
Last week, one month after Floyd died when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the Black handcuffed man’s neck, Kansas State student Jaden McNeil tweeted: “Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!”
Several football players immediately threatened to boycott if the university declined to take action, and basketball players and other athletes soon joined the push. On Saturday, the football team issued a formal statement calling on university President Richard Myers and other administrative staff to make meaningful changes to the campus culture.
The school responded Wednesday by launching a diversity and education fund. Among other initiatives, Kansas State also promised that athletes, coaches and staff would undergo mandatory diversity and inclusion training that includes monthly town hall sessions; redouble efforts to recruit applicants from diverse backgrounds for staff and coaching positions; utilize home games to support the Black Lives Matter movement; highlight Black History Month; and provide transportation to athletes to voting locations on Election Day.
“The university has committed to developing meaningful, measurable action plans with concrete steps,” Myers wrote in an open letter Wednesday. “These proposed steps take into account the reality that, as a governmental entity, we must operate within the law. There have been many calls for us to expel a student who posted racist messages on social media, and while these messages are disrespectful and abhorrent, we cannot violate the law.”
Football coach Chris Klieman, who is entering his second season, said he supported his players and that “I am excited to help every player unite for the solution now, so that we can come together stronger than ever. Black lives matter.”