ETSU basketball players 'taking a knee' at UTC spurs Republican call to ban the practice

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Chattanooga Mocs guard David Jean-Baptiste (3) grabs a defensive rebound during the basketball game between the University of Tennessee and the East Tennessee State Buccaneers at McKenzie Arena on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

NASHVILLE - Upset Tennessee Senate Republicans are urging the heads of state universities and colleges to stop student-athletes from kneeling during the national anthem after a Feb. 15 basketball game in Chattanooga.

At that game, East Tennessee State University players "took a knee" during the anthem before their match with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

After fuming over the event for days, the entire 27-member Senate Republican Caucus sent an identical letter earlier this week to ETSU President Brian Nolan, UTC Chancellor Steven Angle and seven other presidents or chancellors.

"During athletic competitions, our student-athletes represent not only themselves, but also our universities and all the citizens of this state, many of whom view this form of protest as offensive and disrespectful to the very thing our national anthem represents," states the GOP lawmakers' letter, the handiwork of Senate Education Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown.