The kneel-down is part of an effort, which began last year with some pro football players, to bring awareness to police misconduct and racial inequality. KSU football players are not on the field before the anthem.
KSU has said the change to the pre-game program in October had nothing to do with the decision of some cheerleaders to kneel during the anthem. However, Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren boasted in text messages first obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to state Rep. Earl Ehrhart that they had persuaded Olens to find a way to keep cheerleaders from continuing such protests. The Georgia Board of Regents is conducting a special review of how KSU responded to the cheerleaders' actions.
Olens, the former Georgia attorney general and Cobb County commission chairman, was criticized by some as caving to pressure from longtime, politically powerful friends who opposed the cheerleaders’ actions.
Since KSU’s change, the cheerleaders who’ve knelt during the anthem had continued to do so in a tunnel under the stadium. Before last week’s Veterans Day game, the cheerleaders had said they planned to kneel on the field during the national anthem.
A national debate over the appropriateness of the kneel-down during the national anthem began in September after President Donald Trump said the NFL should fire players who kneel. KSU administrators have received numerous telephone calls and emails from residents voicing their support and disapproval of the cheerleaders’ actions.
Some students have held protests on campus in recent weeks, demonstrating against the change and other academic issues, such as Olens’ recent decision to remove the phrase “social justice” from some faculty job descriptions.
Cory Hancock contributed to this article.