Ole Miss basketball players kneel during national anthem as neo-Confederate activists march on campus

Posted on Feb 23 2019 - 4:29pm by Justin Dial and Slade Rand

Update – 3:00 p.m. Sunday

A video posted by ESPN identifies Devontae Shuler as the first of eight Ole Miss players to kneel during the national anthem on Saturday.

Shuler’s decision to kneel during the anthem was followed by teammates Brian Halums, Luis Rodriguez, KJ Buffen, D.C. Davis and Bruce Stevens. Breein Tyree and Franco Miller Jr. also knelt at the end of the anthem. The players’ decision to kneel were supported by head coach Kermit Davis after the game.

Update – 5:00 p.m. Saturday

Breein Tyree and Kermit Davis said the team’s national anthem demonstration today was in response to the neo-Confederate activists who marched on campus at the same time as the Rebels’ home game on Saturday.

Eight Rebel players took to their knees as the national anthem played on Saturday, less than 1,000 feet away from where protesters were rallying in support of the Confederate statue in the university’s Circle. Tyree, a junior guard, spoke to media alongside head coach Kermit Davis after the Rebels’ 72-71 win over Georgia and condemned the neo-Confederate protesters as “hate groups.”

“We’re just tired of these hate groups coming to our school and portraying our campus, our actual university, as having these hate groups in our school,” Tyree said.


The first six players to kneel during the anthem were KJ Buffen, D.C. Davis, Brian Halums, Luis Rodriguez, Devontae Shuler and Bruce Stevens. Toward the end of the national anthem, two more players, Breein Tyree and Franco Miller Jr., joined teammates in taking a knee.

Tyree said he is not sure which player coordinated the protest or which of his teammates was the first to kneel but assured media he was “a part of it.”

“We saw one of our teammates doing it and didn’t want him to be alone,” Tyree said.

He said he does not anticipate the protests to continue throughout the season.

Head coach Kermit Davis said he was not aware of the player’s plan to kneel during the national anthem today but that he supports their “freedom and ability to choose that.”
“This was all about the hate groups that came to our entire community to try to spread racism and bigotry in our community,” Davis said. “It’s created a lot of tension on our campus, and I think our players made an emotional decision to show these people they’re not welcome on our campus. We respect our players’ freedom and ability to choose that.”

Photo courtesy: Twitter via Neal McCready


Update – 4:30 p.m. Saturday

At least six Ole Miss Men’s Basketball players knelt during the national anthem prior to the team’s home game against Georgia on Saturday. On the Pavilion court Saturday afternoon, players including KJ Buffen, Devontae Shuler, Terrence Davis and Bruce Stevens became the first Ole Miss athletes to protest during the anthem since NFL players began similar protests against police brutality and racism in 2016.

It is the first instance of college basketball players kneeling during the national anthem at a major university.

The Rebel players’ demonstration comes nearly one year after Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis was introduced as the Rebels’ new coach in March 2018. At his introductory press conference, Kermit Davis said his players would be “a respectful team that respects the flag and the national anthem.”

At the same moment these players knelt, groups of neo-Confederate activists marched on campus in opposition to Ole Miss’s efforts to contextualize Confederate imagery on the Ole Miss campus. Read our coverage of today’s pro-Confederate rally and counterprotests here.


Check out our full coverage of the weekend protests here.