Kansas State played the University of Southern Mississippi during the NCAA men's basketball championship series on Thursday night in Pittsburgh.
A chant started during the foul shots being taken by Angel Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez is a US citizen, born in Puerto Rico who attended high school in Florida.
Members of the Southern Miss traveling band began to chant "Where's your green card?" loud enough that it was picked up by television cameras.
Following the event, CBS Sports also reported that some members of the band asked members of the media if they heard the chant.
Southern Miss President Martha Saunders released the following statement on her official blog apologizing to Rodriguez.
"We deeply regret the remarks made by a few students at today's game. The words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department or university. We apologize to Mr. Rodriguez and will take quick and appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved in this isolated incident."
In my opinion, this statement, posted in its entirety, is not enough. Encouraging me to write the following letter to the university president.
On a positive note, Kansas State prevailed which eliminated Southern Miss and their band's future TV opportunities.
The following letter was sent through the University online "Ask the President" contact form.
The University President Martha Saunders
University of Southern Mississippi
Dear President Saunders,
Like many sports fans, I've found the actions of students in your band offensive. Not only was it classless, but it was also offensive to every American citizen born in Puerto Rico who are constantly reviewed as second class citizens in the eyes of some.
I call on you to create an example of the students and the administrators. It needs to be clear that top level NCAA sports teams, and colleges and universities in general, should be intolerant when it comes to racism.
- Terminate the director of the band. This faculty member clearly had was not acting in a supervisory capacity over the traveling band.
- Expel students involved in the chant. Particularly the students who asked the member of the media if the chant could be heard on television. It's particularly offensive because it was clear that they were not only interested in rattling Mr. Rodriguez during foul shots, but they also were interested in publicizing their racism.
- Disband the pep band. For a period of one year I recommend that the traveling pep band be prevented from playing publicly. While not every band member participated, they endorsed it in their silence. You need to demonstrate that racism is not only the fault of those calling names, but it's also the fault of those who sit idle.
Yes, there will be repercussions for your University to take such extreme action. However, it's my belief that when a university official makes bold statements toward the moral good, the university is a better place.
These students' actions were an embarrassment to your team, to the band, to the University of Southern Mississippi and to the citizens of your state. It perpetuates the myth that everyone in Mississippi is racist and unintelligent.