Husker basketball team rejects boycott over white nationalist on campus, plans positive response for Rutgers game

February 10, 2018

LINCOLN – Nebraska men’s basketball player Evan Taylor said Friday his team wants to send a positive message about a negative situation.

The Husker men expect to wear T-shirts that say “Hate will never win” before the game Saturday against Rutgers.

Husker women’s basketball coach Amy Williams, men’s coach Tim Miles and two players said Friday at a press conference they will use a white nationalist student’s hateful messages as a way to embrace love and diversity.

Miles said the team rejected a proposal to boycott a game over the views of a white nationalist student.

Besides wearing T-shirts, the players plan to make a video for the Rutgers game.

“I love our guys, and I’m glad they’re able to stand up about the right things,” Miles said in an interview Friday morning.

The players began tweeting “hate will never win” Thursday night. Miles responded to the tweets: “I love these young men!”

Miles said he sensed after a Monday night road win in Minnesota that his players were subdued. They wanted to meet and did so in the airplane.

He said they were upset over Daniel Kleve’s videos, which make light of Martin Luther King Jr. and say the Founding Fathers didn’t care about what Mexicans or blacks had to say.

Kleve was involved in the conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year in which white nationalists protested the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. In one video, Kleve suggests that he relishes violence.

But Kleve, 23, has said in an interview his views on violence are only philosophical and not to be taken literally.

The videos have generated buzz and protest across the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. About 300 students turned out for a rally Wednesday to oppose hate speech. Miles attended the rally. Some students called for Kleve to be kicked out of school. Kleve, of Norfolk, Nebraska, remains a biochemistry student at UNL.

Miles said the vote was lopsided against a boycott. But the players, the majority of whom are black, want to convey a message against hate and racism, Miles said.

“And they’ve endured some of that, and their parents and grandparents have endured that,” he said, referring to racism.

They just want to make a strong stand, he said. “So I’m proud of them.”

NU President Hank Bounds and other administrators spoke to the players Thursday. Miles said he has been in touch daily with Bounds and UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green over the situation.

The players now are focused on the Rutgers game.

“I think we’re in a good place right now,” Miles said. “It took some time, some soul searching for a few days.”

On Friday, the university also held a “listening session” for students to discuss the matter at the Nebraska Union. About 100 students and others attended.

Green, Executive Vice Chancellor Donde Plowman and other administrators led the meeting.

Referring to Kleve’s statements, Green said, “The root of the issue is we cannot agree with the ideology. The ideology is wrong. The ideology is hateful. We abhor the ideology.”

Green noted that the matter affects everyone in the room differently.

A microphone was passed around so students could speak. Some expressed concerns about their safety and wanted to know what the university was going to do.

Green said people are monitoring the situation. He said there’s a difference between a general threat and a specific threat, and that line hasn’t been crossed yet.

He told students that he knows some feel unsafe, but there are not grounds to dismiss Kleve.

Raelynn Burkinshaw, a freshman, said after the meeting that she felt good about some of the things the administrators said.

KaDeja Sangoyele, a junior psychology major, was less pleased with the university’s response. “I don’t feel anything will change,” she said.

World-Herald staff writer Nikoel Hytrek contributed to this report.