Former Rockhurst High School football player Michael Rose-Ivey will get his chance to talk with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Ricketts has agreed to meet next week with Rose-Ivey, one of the Nebraska football players he criticized for kneeling during the national anthem at the Cornhuskers’ most recent game.
Rose-Ivey — a senior linebacker at Nebraska who played four seasons at Rockhurst and made The Kansas City Star’s All-Metro team after his senior year — and teammates Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal took a knee before last Saturday’s game at Northwestern as a protest against police brutality and racial injustice.
After Ricketts called the act “disgraceful” and “disrespectful” on his radio show Monday, Rose-Ivey tweeted at Ricketts that he would like to discuss the issue with him.
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Ricketts on Tuesday night responded on Twitter: “Thanks for reaching out. Direct message me your information, and we will get something set up right away!”
Ricketts’ spokesman Taylor Gage said Wednesday that a day for the meeting had not been set but that it would be held next week, at Rose-Ivey’s request, so it doesn’t interfere with football game preparation. The Cornhuskers don’t have a game on Oct. 8.
The three players were criticized Tuesday by two university regents, Hal Daub of Omaha and Jim Pillen of Columbus, but received support from university president Hank Bounds.
Daub and Pillen said the anthem protest was in poor judgment. In interviews with The Associated Press, neither Daub nor Pillen suggested disciplinary action should be taken against the three players. Daub disputed a Lincoln Journal Star report in which the newspaper quoted him as saying Rose-Ivey, Barry and Neal should be kicked off the team.
University president Bounds pointed out that the players and their critics are free to express their views under the First Amendment. Bounds pointed to a Board of Regents policy in place for almost a half century that says members of the academic community have the right to extensive latitude in making their opinions known.
“College campuses, as much as any space, must be places where robust, even uncomfortable, debate is welcomed and encouraged,” Bounds said. “Our students, faculty and staff absolutely enjoy the right to participate in these dialogues in the manner they choose under the First Amendment and board policy.”
Huskers coach Mike Riley said Monday — and again Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches call with reporters — that he supports his players’ decision to protest and that Rose-Ivey did “an awesome job” with his statement.
“Mike is a very, very thoughtful person, and I think he’s a very aware person,” Riley said. “These thoughts obviously didn’t come overnight, nor did the actions he used on Saturday.”
Riley also said the harsh criticism of Rose-Ivey was unwarranted.
“I think that everybody should be reminded that there’s lots of differences in people. I’ve got 140 kids on the football team and they’re all different in their own beautiful way,” Riley said. “Everybody should be reminded that this is America and we have an opportunity and right to be able to basically say what we feel and how we’re feeling and why we’re feeling that way.
“Mike did a great job of that and he should be respected through that.”