Kansas State players have promised a boycott of all team activities if the university does not expel a fellow student over an offensive George Floyd tweet.
The tweet in question was sent Thursday by Jaden McNeil, a K-State student who claims on his Twitter bio to be the president and founder of America First Students.
We are posting it here because it is necessary to understand the story.
Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!
— Jaden McNeil (@JadenPMcNeil) June 25, 2020
In response, a large number of Kansas State football players — the Wichita Eagle described it as “seemingly every member of the Wildcats active roster” — have vowed to boycott all football activities as long as McNeil remains a K-State student.
The tweet drew the ire of K-State’s administration as soon as it began circulating two days ago.
We are launching an immediate review of the university’s options. Black Lives Matter at Kansas State University and we will continue to fight for social justice.
— K-State (@KState) June 26, 2020
AD Gene Taylor and head coach Chris Klieman also responded.
“Recent tweets from a K-State student downplaying the Black Lives Matter effort and the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd are disgusting and totally inappropriate and not reflective of who we are as a University or our Athletic Department,” Taylor wrote Twitter. “They are not reflective of our administration and goals. We are committed to listening and supporting our black athletes, black students and members of our black community and taking positive steps in the matters of social injustice and racism.
“Our program and our coaches will continue to be part of the solution when it comes to racial and justice. I love our players, and they know I have their backs,” Kleiman tweeted.
So, clearly this isn’t an issue like Texas or Oklahoma State, where players threatened to sit out parts or all of their football duties in order to get the attention of their university presidents. Jaden McNeil already has all of Kansas State’s attention, and K-State president Richard Myers’s statement — “We are launching an immediate review of the university’s options” — implies the school is looking at ways to boot him.
But Kansas State’s players have seen their peers run the exact same play to perfect outcomes elsewhere, so it makes natural sense they’d try to utilize their leverage in order to create the change they want on campus.
The difference here is, the football team’s leverage could run up against the limits of free speech laws. And then what?