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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas coach Jimmy Dykes speaks to fans during a luncheon Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, at Mermaid's in Fayetteville. ( David Gottschalk)

— Arkansas women’s basketball coach Jimmy Dykes could not say Monday whether players on his team would continue to kneel during the pregame playing of the national anthem.

“Like everything else in our program, that’s day to day,” Dykes said at his team’s monthly fan luncheon at Mermaid’s in Fayetteville.

Dykes said he supports his players’ rights to express themselves, but he said he thinks people should stand during the anthem.

“Anyone who has ever been around me and knows me, they know that about me,” Dykes said. “That is very, very important to me and several of you who are here today.

“Our young ladies, their intent was to have a platform where they could talk about the issues they want to talk about. It was not in any shape or form to disrespect the military.”

Dykes, who got a standing ovation before he spoke, took some questions from the audience of about 100 but not from the media after the event.

Dykes said he has felt a “tremendous of amount of support” since last Thursday when Jordan Danberry, Tatiyna Smith, Kiara Williams, Jailyn Mason, Yasmeen Ratliff and Briunna Freeman locked arms and knelt during the national anthem before an exhibition game against Oklahoma Baptist.

But it has also been a trying few days, Dykes said, because of a considerable amount of backlash over the protest.

Danberry, a sophomore guard from Conway, said after the game that she knelt because of an “unjust system” that resulted in police brutality against blacks and other minorities. The gesture angered many fans who considered it unpatriotic and an insult to past and present military members.

Dykes said Monday that his staff had spoken to players several times before the exhibition game about their desire to protest during the anthem.

When discussions began, “I’m not sure I really wanted to listen,” Dykes said. “Now I can’t listen enough to our young ladies.

“We talked about each decision we make, we have consequences whether they are what we intended them to be or not to be. There is no doubt that deciding to do so during the national anthem opened up the opportunity for many different interpretations of their intentions.”

Dykes attempted to clarify some of his comments from last Thursday, which were in support of the players’ decision but he said were taken out of context by some who opposed the method of protest. He said he did not endorse his players kneeling for the anthem.

“To be perfectly clear, my support is of our 14 tremendously strong young women, six who declared to kneel and eight who stood, and their ability to express themselves and support each other,” Dykes said. “I’m so proud of how they worked through a very difficult topic for them.”

Arkansas is scheduled to open the regular season Friday with a 10:30 a.m. game against Sam Houston State at Bud Walton Arena.

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Archived Comments

  • Jackabbott
    November 7, 2016 at 2:56 p.m.

    Dykes is letting his players run the show. He needs to man up and stop the disgrace and hate toward our state and country. He and Jeff Long may be a part of the problem, hiding their hated. They and the players do not have the values of the state of Arkansas or USA. They are getting paid to insult us. What a shame. If it happens again the Governor needs to act quicky to end this garbage. They are defaming the university, the state and country and getting paid to do it.

  • Marks
    November 7, 2016 at 3:38 p.m.

    Dykes was quoted on the day this occurred as strongly supporting his players. Now he is trying to walk these comments back by saying these players do not represent his values. Gee, I wonder why? Both he and Jeff Long need to hope and pray these players do not "disrespect" our flag, country and military again.

  • JakeTidmore
    November 7, 2016 at 4:03 p.m.

    How about some respect for the 1st Amendment from you who seem to have forgotten the meaning and nature of protest and how it's protected by our constitution. God save us from tyrants with self-righteous views and faux patriotism.
    **
    FIRST AMENDMENT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
    **
    In addition to protection of religious freedom which is wildly popular among the religious right in America, especially the evangelical movement which essentially believes The Bible is the ultimate authority on history, biology, morality, and essentially everything, the First Amendment also provides for freedom of the press and individual freedom of speech – that is, your right (in America) to say the government is screwed up – something which can get you jailed and tortured in lots of other countries.
    **
    “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable,” said Justice William Brennan.

  • TimberTopper
    November 7, 2016 at 4:22 p.m.

    Jack and Marks, You must not believe in the Constitution of The United States of America! Gentlemen, you do NOT have the right to take someone's rights away from them nor to wish punishment upon then because they use one of their rights. READ and UNDERSTAND The Constitution, gentlemen! It appears Jack, that it is you that is lacking the values of the USA, along with your buddy Mark. Two sorry examples of Americans! Jack you state that this is garbage, if so then your right to express yourself on here must also be garbage to you. Neither of you are being as good of an American as those young ladies doing the kneeling. They are NOT taking your RIGHTS from you. It is you two and any like you that are and would be the breakers of the Constitution, and therefore the downfall of this great Nation. What's yours is yours, and what's theirs is theirs, not what theirs is yours. You gentlemen owe an apology to Dykes, Long, and these young ladies.

  • TOMCURRY
    November 7, 2016 at 4:28 p.m.

    My advice as 27-year Army veteran is that everyone take a deep breath. My oath all those many years ago was to protect the Constitution of the United States. That includes the First Amendment. I see no disrespect for the military - the flag is not synonymous with the military.

    This is not the form of protest that I would use but I am (or at least was) sworn to protect the right to protest. I would be disappointed if the coach or the University attempted to stifle these young people's right to protest.

  • JakeTidmore
    November 7, 2016 at 4:31 p.m.

    History lesson: (Jason Johnson)
    **
    F. Scott Key was an aristocrat and city prosecutor in Washington, D.C. He was not against slavery; he just thought that since blacks were mentally inferior, masters should treat them with more Christian kindness. He supported sending free blacks (not slaves) back to Africa and, with a few exceptions, was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time.

    Key was particularly opposed to the idea of the Colonial Marines. The Marines were a battalion of runaway slaves who joined with the British Royal Army in exchange for their freedom. The Marines were not only a terrifying example of what slaves would do if given the chance, but also a repudiation of the white superiority.

    All of these ideas and concepts came together around Aug. 24, 1815, at the Battle of Bladensburg, where Key, who was serving as a lieutenant at the time, ran into a battalion of Colonial Marines. His troops were taken to the woodshed by the very black folks he disdained, and he fled back to his home in Georgetown to lick his wounds. The British troops, emboldened by their victory in Bladensburg, then marched into Washington, D.C., burning the Library of Congress, the Capitol Building and the White House. You can imagine that Key was very much in his feelings seeing black soldiers trampling on the city he so desperately loved.

    A few weeks later, in September of 1815, far from being a captive, Key was on a British boat begging for the release of one of his friends, a doctor named William Beanes. Key was on the boat waiting to see if the British would release his friend when he observed the bloody battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Sept. 13, 1815. America lost the battle but managed to inflict heavy casualties on the British in the process. This inspired Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” right then and there, but no one remembers that he wrote a full third stanza decrying the former slaves who were now working for the British army:

    And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
    That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
    A home and a Country should leave us no more?
    Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
    No refuge could save the hireling and slave
    From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    In other words, Key was saying that the blood of all the former slaves and “hirelings” on the battlefield will wash away the pollution of the British invaders. With Key still bitter that some black soldiers got the best of him a few weeks earlier, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is as much a patriotic song as it is a diss track to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom. Perhaps that’s why it took almost 100 years for the song to become the national anthem.
    **
    Now you know the rest of the story.

  • ANOTHERAPPROACH
    November 7, 2016 at 4:39 p.m.

    Careful when you are losing your a__ off. I get the whole constitutional rights thing. I also get the united front thing. I believe in the cause and strongly object to the method. If the wrong person or people (HUGE HUGE BOOSTERS) interpret this show of unity the way I do,.. ...you will see a different reaction by the administration, IMO. Lots of big money lining up against this situation in a hurry as it stays in the news. Careful, careful. And is this a team? All in or all out? Just wondering. Never forget the money in college athletics. NEVER

  • Slak
    November 7, 2016 at 4:45 p.m.

    Sports teams represent the schools. If a State school, they represent the State.
    They can use their first amendment freedom for their personal communications.
    They cannot use their first amendment freedom to represent the school and the State...unless the school or State allow it.
    When they have that uniform on, they are not on their personal time.
    LOL, try protesting fracking while wearing a gas company uniform on gas company time and see how your termination holds up in court.

  • Vickie55
    November 7, 2016 at 4:47 p.m.

    You do realize that the 1st Amendment says that you can not be arrested for exercising your free speech. Yes, these players have the right to all the free speech they want, but that does not mean there are no repercussions for their actions. Coach Dykes has the authority select the players who will be on the court to play the game. The University has the authority to select the players who are invited to receive scholarships to attend the University. I have the right to say whatever I want to say while I am at work but I can promise you I would be relieved of my job duties if my words were harmful to my employer.

  • information19
    November 7, 2016 at 4:50 p.m.

    The content and context of the protest is solid. This society should be mature enough to discuss & resolve differences without all this hatred. I'm pretty sure that the men & women who have served did not do their jobs in order for the rights of US citizens to be trampled upon as well as the disparities that continue to exist.

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