Brass of the University of Kentucky supported athletes’ right to protest Monday after a local sheriff burned Wildcats equipment to express his dissatisfaction with the program.
Laurel County Sheriff John Root set Kentucky T-shirts on fire along with County Jailer Jamie Mosley on Sunday in a recently deleted Facebook post that followed up with a demand that head coach John Calipari be fired. Laurel County sits near the Tennessee border and has a population of about 60,000 people.
Why is the sheriff angry?
Root was upset that Wildcats players and coaches including Calipari took a knee during the national anthem ahead of Saturday’s victory over Florida.
The Kentucky protest was in response to the mob of supporters of President Donald Trump, who invaded the US Capitol last week to undermine the verification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in November.
UK brass responds
Kentucky President Eli Capilouto and athletic director Mitch Barnhart released a joint statement to ESPN on Monday supporting the school’s athletes in the face of criticism.
“A value that we all cherish in our country is the right to freedom of expression and self-expression,” it said. “This right for young students like these is also important when they learn, grow and find out who they are and what they believe in.
“We do not always agree on every subject. However, we hope to agree on the right to self-expression, which is so fundamental to who we are as an institution of higher learning. We live in a polarized and deeply divided country. Our hope – and our players and our coaches – is to find ways to bridge gaps and unite.
Calipari addressed the decision to kneel earlier Monday in his radio program.
“It was all the pictures they saw and they wanted their voice heard, and I said well, ‘Tell me what it’s about,'” he told ESPN. They talked to me about it. Then they said, ‘We want you to kneel with us,’ which I did.
“I kept my heart, but I knelt with them because I support the guys. But it was not about the military. Six of these players come from military families. ”
Root started his campaign on Saturday night while calling for Calipari’s job in a Facebook post.
“I honestly can’t believe a team from Kentucky (Hillbilly State) took a knee to our national anthem with the American flag displayed!” Root wrote. … “The British clothes and memorabilia are gone tomorrow, and until we get a real man to lead the cats and a real team, you will not see me back in any British junk, and if you just get up and hit me mouth !!!! “
Court: Defund UK
Knox County Fiscal Court also organized a protest against the basketball team and signed a unanimous decision demanding that taxpayer funds for the university be used elsewhere.
“The University of Kentucky receives millions and millions of dollars every year with hard-working Kentucky taxpayers’ money,” Judge Executive Mike Mitchell told the Times-Tribune. “I think they should be held accountable for their actions if they can not cope better than that.”
Knox County has a population of about 30,000 people and also sits near the Tennessee border.
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