Louisiana governor responds after LSU’s women’s basketball team skips national anthem: ‘This is a matter of respect’

News & Politics

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R) suggested Tuesday that college athletes who disrespect the national anthem should face consequences.

Ahead of the much-anticipated matchup between LSU and Iowa in the women’s NCAA tournament on Monday, LSU caught flak for apparently skipping the national anthem. The Iowa Hawkeyes, however, were on the court during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

After the game — a 94-87 Iowa victory — LSU women’s basketball head coach Kim Mulkey addressed the incident.

“Honestly, I don’t even know when the anthem was played,” she said.

“We kind of have a routine when they’re on the floor and they come off at the 12-minute mark. I don’t know, we come in and we do our pre-game stuff,” she explained. “I’m sorry, listen, that’s nothing intentionally done.”

But the damage was done, at least in the eyes of Gov. Landry.

On Tuesday, the Republican governor advocated for university officials to enact a policy that requires student athletes be present for the national anthem — or risk losing their scholarship.

“My mother coached women’s high school basketball during the height of desegregation, no one has a greater respect for the sport and for Coach Mulkey,” Landry said in a statement.

“However, above respect for that game is a deeper respect for those that serve to protect us and unite us under one flag!” he continued.

“It is time that all college boards, including Regent, put a policy in place that student athletes be present for the national anthem or risk their athletic scholarship!” he said. “This is a matter of respect that all collegiate coaches should instill.”

But is this a matter of student athletes disrespecting the national anthem?

It appears not.

According to a Louisiana sports reporter who covers the LSU women’s basketball team, the players are never on the court during the national anthem. Instead, the team leaves the court before pregame festivities after their warm-ups, before reentering the court for team introductions — just as Coach Mulkey said.

A spokesperson for LSU, associate athletic director Cody Worsham, confirmed that LSU’s basketball teams are never on the court for the national anthem.

“Our basketball programs have not been on the court for the anthem for the last several seasons. Usually the anthem is played 12 minutes before the game when the team is in the locker room doing final preparations,” Worsham said.

Landry’s idea, meanwhile, is already receiving pushback from state leaders, according to the Louisiana Illuminator.

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