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Governor Calls for Mandatory Pregame Anthem Presence

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

Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry stirred debate on Tuesday, urging the Louisiana Board of Regents to enforce a policy mandating student-athletes' presence for the national anthem before games, following LSU's Elite Eight loss to Iowa.


In a tweet following LSU's defeat, Landry emphasized the need for respect toward those serving under the nation's flag, advocating for a policy to safeguard athletic scholarships.

Landry stated, "It is time that all college boards, including Regent, put a policy in place that student-athletes be present for the national anthem or risk their athletic scholarship! This is a matter of respect that all collegiate coaches should instill."


Contrary to any perceived protest, LSU's head coach Kim Mulkey clarified that the absence of players during the anthem was part of the team's established pregame routine, emphasizing their focus on preparation.


Acknowledging the governor's stance, LSU and its administrators expressed reservations about enforceability. Jimmy Clarke, chair of the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors, highlighted practical challenges, while Kim Hunter Reed, the state's commissioner of higher education, clarified the board's limited jurisdiction over scholarship decisions.


An LSU spokesperson affirmed that both men's and women's basketball teams have routinely remained in the locker room during the anthem for several seasons, engaged in pregame preparations.


This incident resurfaces a recurring debate at LSU, where the national anthem has intersected with politics before. Previous controversies involved threats from unnamed legislators regarding funding for players who kneeled during the anthem, a practice consistent with the team's locker room tradition.

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