Kennesaw State Cuts 4 of 5 Cheerleaders Who Took a Knee During Anthem Last Year

Kennesaw Cheerleaders
AP Photo/Kelly J. Huff

Kennesaw State University has cut four of the five cheerleaders who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem last year, according to reports.

The school newspaper, the Sentinel, noted that four of the five kneelers did not make the cut for the 2018 football season. KSU’s athletic department reported that 91 women tried out for the 52 spots on the various cheer squads, up from 61 applicants last year. The department also noted that three other members of last year’s teams also did not make the cut for this year.

“Similar to all KSU sports teams, multi-year spots on rosters are not guaranteed, and all student-athletes must earn their position on a team,” a letter from the KSU athletic department stated according to the school’s paper.

The five cheerleaders made national news last year when they joined in with the NFL’s protests against the country during the playing of the national anthem. Their protests earned them the nickname “The Kennesaw Five.”

The cheerleaders, all African American students, immediately sparked outrage in the Kennesaw community. The controversy even spilled over into the school’s administration when Kennesaw State University president Sam Olens resigned after attempting to prevent the cheerleaders from continuing their protests.

Olens worked to design a rule preventing the cheer teams from taking the field until after the Star-Spangled Banner was played, but he was accused of bowing to pressure from local politicians. His solution satisfied neither the protesters nor those who opposed the protests, and Olens later decided that his position was untenable.

“I have decided that new leadership will be required for KSU to fully realize its potential,” Olens wrote in an email to faculty and students in December of 2017.

Thus far there have been no proclamations from the surviving member of the “Kennesaw Five,” nor have any other cheer squad members spoken publicly on the issue. The names of the four kneeling cheerleaders who were cut have not been made public.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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