Four of the five Kennesaw State University cheerleaders who knelt at football games last season to protest police brutality will not be on the squad this season, to their disappointment.
The cheerleader protest caused an uproar at the university. KSU changed its rules after the first protest, keeping all cheerleaders in the tunnel during the anthem.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren boasted in a series of text messages about pressuring KSU’s president into keeping the school’s cheerleaders off the field. Some students protested on campus.
The University System of Georgia released a report that found KSU administrators didn’t follow its guidance that national-anthem student protests were constitutionally protected free speech and should be allowed unless they cause a disruption. KSU’s president, Sam Olens, announced plans to resign a month after the report.
KSU officials said the number of people who tried out in May for one of the 52 spots on this year’s squad increased to 95 from the 61 who tried out last year. Seven cheerleaders who were on the squad last year didn’t make this year’s group, they said.
“While they are disappointed, they’ve accepted it and went on with their academic lives,” Davante Lewis, the spokesman for the cheerleaders, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Pamela Whitten, hired in June as KSU’s president, said in an interview Tuesday she would be open to meeting with the cheerleaders and students involved in the protests.