For Pete's Sake

Muslim player says he was kicked off Kansas team for shooting baskets during anthem

Rasool Samir, front right, celebrates with teammates in his hometown of Philadelphia after helping lead his team to a high school championship in 2014.
Rasool Samir, front right, celebrates with teammates in his hometown of Philadelphia after helping lead his team to a high school championship in 2014. Philly.com

A Garden City Community College men’s basketball player believes he was kicked off his team for shooting baskets during the playing of the national anthem.

Rasool Samir continued shooting baskets while the national anthem was being played before a game on Nov. 1, and he was confronted by a school booster, the Garden City Telegram reported. The two had to be separated by a campus police officer.

In a separate story, the Telegram identified the booster as Jim Howard.

“I’ve had enough of disrespecting our flag,” Howard told the Telegram. “I’ve been raising money for 32 years for this college, trying to help pay for scholarships for these kids. If they’re not going to respect our flag, then they need to get off of our campus and out of Garden City.”

The ACLU of Kansas said in a letter on its website that Samir was not protesting. Instead, as a Muslim, Samir chose not to stand for the national anthem for religious reasons and that he had abstained in previous games without incident.

Samir told the Telegram he did not “mean any disrespect at all to the fans or the flag … I am truly sorry to anyone that felt disrespected, and I am also sorry to the school. I apologize for what happened.”

The ACLU said Samir met on Nov. 2 with basketball coach Brady Trenkle, who told Samir he was no longer on the team. He was given a plane ticket back to his hometown of Philadelphia.

Garden City Community College athletic director John Green initially told the Telegram that Samir chose to leave the team but later informed KWCH in Wichita that Samir was removed because of a violation of team rules.

“This dismissal is not related to the national anthem, but for conduct following the event,” Green told KWCH.

The ACLU of Kansas said it was contacted by Samir about the incident, and the organization believes he was kicked off Garden City’s team for not participating in the national anthem, which it says is a violation of his First Amendment rights.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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