The University of Oklahoma football team released a statement Thursday, decrying a video that surfaced this weekend showing a member of the university’s now-defunct Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity repeatedly chanting “there will never be a n----r in SAE.”
In the statement, the student-athletes said the team would again skip practice on Thursday to instead “demonstrate silently.” The team has not practiced all week.
The players, which expressed their gratitude to the team’s coaching staff for supporting their actions over the past week, hope to use the incident as a way to “promote meaningful change” at both the national level and on their own campus, according to the statement.
Oklahoma football additionally demanded the fraternity’s senior leadership be “expelled, suspended, or otherwise disciplined severely.”
“The two students that have already been expelled [as a result of the video] are only a symptom of a larger disease, a disease perpetuated by the leadership of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon,” the statement reads. “The chant was not invented by the two that led it, but was taught to underclassmen by people of higher authority.”
“As a team, we have come to a consensus that, in any organization, the leadership is responsible for the culture created and, in this case, encouraged,” the statement continues. “Being a student at the University of Oklahoma is a privilege, and allowing this culture to thrive is against everything it means to be a Sooner.”
In a separate statement released Thursday, Oklahoma director of athletics Joe Castiglione backed the team’s desire for the university to investigate SAE senior leadership's role in creating a culture of racism:
The university has been scrambling to take appropriate action since the video first surfaced on Sunday. University of Oklahoma president David Boren severed all ties with the fraternity, and the school swiftly expelled two students who reportedly played a “leadership role in the singing of a chant.”
That wasn’t enough to stop four-star recruit Jean Delance from announcing this week that he had decided against attending Oklahoma. In an interview on Monday, Delance said he found the video “very disturbing.”
"I wouldn’t want my son or child to go there or to anywhere like that,” he said.
Read the statement from University of Oklahoma football in its entirety, via quarterback Trevor Knight’s Twitter account:
In light of the recent release of an undeniably, disgustingly racist video featuring members of a fraternity at our university, we the student-athletes of the University of Oklahoma football team have met to discuss the issues that are at the heart of this matter. This single incident brings to the surface pervasive issues that must be confronted and resolved in order for the university to move forward. We applaud the actions that the university has taken thus far, and we appreciate President Boren's swift and decisive actions following the controversy. We thank Coach Stoops and the staff for wholeheartedly supporting our decisions as a team. As a team, our goal first and foremost is to raise awareness of racism and discrimination on college campuses nationwide. These types of incidents occur nationwide every single year, and our hope is to shed light on this issue and promote meaningful change at a national level. But before we can change the nation, we make it our mission to change our campus. We seek to accomplish this goal by stepping out of the spotlight and integrating the student-athlete experience and the student experience. As student athletes of all races, classes and creeds, we hope to show the university and the community that we are defined by more than the numbers on our jerseys, and that we are human beings that desire to get to know our classmates as we all attempt to end the culture of exclusivity on this campus. Secondary to accomplishing these goals, we also seek disciplinary action for those responsible. The two students that have already been expelled are only a symptom of a larger disease, a disease perpetuated by the leadership of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The chant was not invented by the two that led it, but was taught to underclassmen by people of higher authority. As a team, we have come to a consensus that, in any organization, the leadership is responsible for the culture created and, in this case, encouraged. Being a student at the University of Oklahoma is a privilege, and allowing this culture to thrive is against everything it means to be a Sooner. Ignorance is no excuse. Therefore, we would like to urge the university to continue to investigate the Executive Board of SAE, and we trust that this investigation has already begun. It is our passionately expressed desire as members of the football team for the leadership of SAE to be expelled, suspended, or otherwise disciplined severely. Moving forward, we seek to continue to raise awareness for this issue and reiterate that this is much greater than football. We have not practiced this week, and will not be practicing today as we will demonstrate silently on Owen Field during our normal practice time. We will not forget about this during spring break, and upon our return to the practice field on Monday, March 23, we will continue to address this issue in our media opportunities and by wearing black during our practices. We cannot express how grateful we are to Coach Stoops and the coaching staff for supporting each and every action we have taken, even when these actions may have seemed extreme. We simply cannot wait to get back on the practice field in our pursuit of a national championship, but even a national championship is not more important than using our platform as student athletes to make our university and our nation a better place. We look forward to working with Coach Stoops, Mr. Castiglione, and President Boren to improve the state of our campus and our nation going forward! Boomer Sooner!