Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry threatens scholarships if LSU players miss national anthem before Iowa loss

ALBANY, NEW YORK - APRIL 01: LSU Lady Tigers head coach Kim Mulkey looks on during the first half against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the Elite Eight round of the 2024 NCAA women's basketball tournament held at MVP Arena on April 1, 2024 in Albany.  , New York.  (Photo by Scott Tatsch/NCAA Photo via Getty Images)

LSU's pregame routine has suddenly become a political issue. (Photo by Scott Tatsch/NCAA Photo via Getty Images)

The pre-game logistics of LSU's Elite Eight loss to Iowa turned into a controversy that reached the governor's mansion on Tuesday.

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry posted a tweet The next morning after LSU's 94–87 loss to Iowa, the Louisiana Board of Regents was asked to enact a policy mandating that student-athletes must be present for the pregame national anthem or risk losing their scholarships.

Many conservative commentators had spent the past several hours criticizing LSU's players and coaches for not being on the court when the national anthem was played before the Elite Eight in Albany, New York.

Landry's full tweet:

“My mother coached women's high school basketball during the height of segregation; no one has a greater respect for the game and for Coach Mulkey. However, for those above that respect for the game runs deeper. A flag that honors those who serve to protect us and unite us!

“It is time that all college boards, including the Regents, create a policy that student-athletes appear for the national anthem or risk their athletic scholarships! This is a point of honor that all collegiate coaches should join.”

The LSU players not being on the court was not a protest of any kind, as LSU head coach Kim Mulkey explained after the game. The defending champion's coach told reporters that the team was following its normal pregame routine:

“To be honest, I don't even know when the national anthem was played. We have kind of a routine when they're on stage and they stop after 12 minutes. I don't know, we come in and we Do our pregame thing. I'm sorry, listen, it wasn't anything intentional.”

Teams not being on the court or field during the national anthem is actually not rare throughout college athletics, including the days when Colin Kaepernick consulted with a former Green Beret about how to respectfully protest during the national anthem. After this he started his protest against racial injustice.

The governor's request was met with overall consternation from LSU and its administrators. Jimmy Clark, chair of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors, told the Louisiana Illuminator, “I see some difficulties in trying to implement something like this,” while the state's commissioner of higher education, Kim Hunter Reed, said the Board of Regents would consider funding the scholarship. Does not play any role in decisions about.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for LSU said in a statement That both the men's and women's basketball teams remained in the locker room for long periods of time during the national anthem in preparation for the game instead:

“Our basketball program has not been on the court for the national anthem for the past several seasons. The national anthem is typically played 12 minutes before the game when the team is making final preparations in the locker room.”

This is not the first time that the national anthem has become political theater at LSU, as the Illuminator noted that unnamed Louisiana legislators threatened LSU's defunding of players who kneel during the national anthem, such as Kaepernick. Then-LSU President F. King Alexander responded by saying that the team remains in the locker room during the national anthem.

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