Some of the Kennesaw State cheerleaders resumed taking a knee during the national anthem at the Nov. 18 home game. On the previous Saturday, which was Veterans Day and the cheerleaders’ first time on the field for the anthem since the kneeling controversy began, none of the cheerleaders took a knee. Photo: Cory Hancock / Special to the AJC
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

State takes KSU to task for its response to cheerleaders taking a knee

State officials released a report Tuesday that concluded Kennesaw State University didn’t follow its legal guidance that cheerleaders and any other students cannot be prohibited from kneeling during the national anthem as long as the actions aren’t disruptive.

The Georgia Board of Regents ordered a special review of how KSU responded to the decision by five African-American cheerleaders to take a knee during the anthem during a September football game after conflicting information emerged regarding why the university decided a week later to no longer allow cheerleaders on the field during the anthem.

KSU has been in the national spotlight since the change to its show before football games, receiving criticism from free-speech organizations, some faculty and students. Many area residents and KSU boosters, though, have criticized the cheerleaders who’ve taken a knee, describing their actions as unpatriotic.

KSU President Sam Olens announced earlier this month cheerleaders will again be allowed on the football field during the anthem.

Here are some key findings from the five-page report:

  • Olens was at a University System of Georgia meeting a few days after the first time some cheerleaders took a knee and was told such actions were protected free speech.
  • Olens did not follow the University System’s instructions that any campus making changes related to the matter should discuss their plans with USG officials. The USG learned about KSU’s decision after reading an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.
  •  KSU’s athletics department told USG officials it made the changes to the show before football games, saying the decision was made to “remedy” a two-minute gap before the visiting team came on the field.
  • The report questioned KSU’s explanation for the change, noting it was made a week after the first time the cheerleaders knelt during the anthem.
  • State Rep. Earl Ehrhart and Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren called Olens and other KSU officials adamant that the cheerleaders shouldn’t be kneeling on the football field.

A complete article about the report will be on www.myajc.com later today.

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