The University of Oklahoma football team held a silent protest today instead of practicing in response to a video showing members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon reciting a racist chant.
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Clad in black, the players took the field arm-in-arm Thursday afternoon and stood silently for several minutes before speaking with the media.
"This is an instance in which we feel like we have the opportunity to step up and promote that change," said quarterback Trevor Knight. He was among those players and coaches who posted a statement saying the team had not practiced this week and asked that the university continue its investigation into the executive board of the fraternity.
"It turned our stomachs and our hearts," added linebacker Eric Striker. "It really hurt all of us."
The university closed the SAE house on campus and expelled two students after the video emerged earlier this week, which shows fraternity members chanting, “There will never be a n***** at SAE” and also referred to lynchings and keeping African-Americans out of the fraternity.
"These types of incidents occur nationwide every single year, and our hope is to shed light on this issue and promote meaningful change at a national level," read the statement posted to Knight's and several others' Twitter accounts.
"The chant was not invented by the two that led it, but was taught to underclassmen by people of higher authority," the statement continued. "Being a student at the University of Oklahoma is a privilege, and allowing this culture to thrive is against everything it means to be a Sooner. Ignorance is no excuse."
Head coach Bob Stoops echoed his support for his players.
"This kind of stance is more important than practice," said Stoops. "They want to affect change around the country, not just here."
The university also issued a statement today, saying President David Boren planned to meet with the captains of the football team following spring break. He also asked the vice president of student affairs to investigate each officer of the fraternity to "determine their responsibility and to make recommendations on appropriate disciplinary action."
Statement from OU Director of Athletics, Joe Castiglione pic.twitter.com/2xk0oTdHJs— Oklahoma Sooners (@OU_Athletics) March 12, 2015
Former fraternity members have claimed the same language was used at other colleges, but the national headquarters has denied being the source of the chant.