Two SEC programs were among the college football teams that followed the NBA’s lead on Thursday
Several college football programs did not practice Thursday and instead followed the NBA’s lead by protesting racial injustice around the country. Texas, Kentucky, South Florida, Boston College, Western Kentucky, Appalachian State, Mississippi State and Baylor each either canceled practice or staged practice walkouts in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Wisconsin on Sunday.
Most teams that stayed off the field Thursday opted instead to meet as a team with Boston College coach Jeff Hafley saying that players and coaches from the Eagles’ program spoke in front of the team.
“It was very touching and it was very emotional,” Hafley said. “Then we broke up into smaller groups and continued those conversations. It went on probably longer than our practice would have went on.”
A similar situation played out at Kentucky, where coach Mark Stoops backed his players as they decided not to practice, according to defensive end Josh Paschal, who spoke with reporters.
“He knows it’s an issue and he knows there’s things that need to be talked about and actions that need to be made,” Paschal said. “He was willing to stand with us and fight for us, no matter what we decided.”
Kentucky wasn’t the only program from the Bluegrass State that focused on something other than football on Thursday. Western Kentucky coach Tyson Helton released a statement saying the Hilltoppers met “regarding the current events in our country.”
“We had very constructive conversation among our player and coaches,” Helton said in a statement. “I made the decision to call off tonight’s practice so our current focus could remain on these issues. We will plan to get back on the field tomorrow and continue having these important conversations as a team going forward.”
Mississippi State players decided to gather at a park near campus to protest injustice. The collective action across college football followed a landmark decision by NBA teams made Wednesday not to participate in playoff games amid continued unrest due to police brutality. The NBA is expected to resume its playoffs at some point, though no schedule has been announced.