Some of Kansas State's Black student-athletes want the university to take action. And if their demands aren't met, they are prepared to sit out all athletics-related events.
It comes in the wake of a controversial tweet sent out by K-State student Jaden McNeil on Thursday, which has since gone viral, with the university making headlines across the country.
“Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!” McNeil wrote in the tweet.
Two letters, with slightly different language, began circulating on social media among K-State's Black student-athletes Friday. But both carried the same demands.
One version was shared by Christianna Carr, a Manhattan High alum and rising junior on K-State's women's basketball team.
"Due to recent insensitivity from Kansas State students, collectively as Black student-athletes we will NO LONGER accept these types of actions," the message began. "If we do not see change, we will not play or participate in any donor or recruiting events."
The message carried two demands, which were put in bold font for emphasis.
The first: "A policy against racism that will expel any student that openly displays racism on all platforms, such as social media, (at) school, (in) Aggieville and sporting events."
The second: "We also need to see student Jaden McNeil receive strong consequences of his insensitive actions."
The message concluded by saying, "If these actions are not taken, (i)t is a promise that we will not play."
Please respect my decision. pic.twitter.com/S74a0hwPYe— christianna mae (@chrissycarr4) June 26, 2020
The other message, shared by rising senior defensive back Jonathan Alexander, had the same two demands listed verbatim. The differences came in the wording of the opening and closing paragraphs.
"As student-athletes of color, and students of color at Kansas State University, we understand that as athletes we have a platform that can be used for good," the message began. "We have decided to speak up about the issue that has occurred. We believe that all students of color, athlete or not, should feel comfortable and safe while walking on campus and attending or playing in sporting events. With that being said, on behalf of the student-athletes and student-athletes of color here at Kansas State, here is what we need to ensure our safety on and off campus."
The two demands followed, with the final paragraph beginning by saying that K-State's Black student-athletes "stand in solidarity" on the issue and the demands.
"If these things aren't addressed accordingly, we have decided that we will not participate in all athletic-related activities," the message read. "As members of this community, what brought me and fellow student-athletes to Kansas State University was the idea of family, and we have decided that it is time to start acting like one."
DaJuan Gordon, a rising sophomore guard on K-State's men's basketball team, shared the same version of the message as Carr.
This followed a day of tweets in which Gordon stated, on multiple occasions, that he would not play for the Wildcats next season if action was not taken against McNeil.
"Yes, it is freedom of speech, but as athletes we are held to a certain standard," he wrote. "We have to take action. Because if any colored athlete said anything (with regard) to racism then we’ll be kicked out ... we are humans first, not 3/5 of a person!"
Yes it is freedom of speech, but as athletes we are held to a certain standard. We have to take action. Because if any colored athlete said anything that regards to racism then we’ll be kicked out... we are humans first not 3/5 of a person!— DaJuan Gordon (@Thatboyquaye) June 26, 2020
Ten minutes later, he went a step further.
"If nothing is done, I will not be representing this (university) either," Gordon wrote. "If nothing is done mean they support it!"
If nothing is done, I will not be representing this Univisity either. Chase if nothing is done mean they support it! https://t.co/IKkNCYohkV— DaJuan Gordon (@Thatboyquaye) June 26, 2020
That put Gordon in unison with teammate Antonio Gordon. (They are not related.)
Antonio Gordon, a rising sophomore forward for the Wildcats, also said he didn't intend to suit up next season if McNeil doesn't face consequences.
"If no action is taken against the student that made these remarks on Twitter I will not be able to represent this university," he wrote.
Other K-State student-athletes who stated they would not play next season unless McNeil is punished included two other football players: sophomore receiver Joshua Youngblood and freshman defensive back Tee Denson.
Youngblood later deleted his tweet, but Denson's has remained.
"I refuse to play for a program that tolerates ignorance such as this," wrote Denson, who tagged the university's official Twitter account in the tweet.
K-State athletics director Gene Taylor, head football coach Chris Klieman, men's basketball head coach Bruce Weber and women's basketball head coach Jeff Mittie all sent out tweets Friday expressing their support for the university's student-athletes.
“Recent tweets from a K-State student downplaying the Black Lives Matter effort and the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd are disgusting and totally inappropriate and not reflective of who we are as a university or our athletics department,” wrote Taylor, who didn’t address McNeil by name. “They are not reflective of our administration and goals. We are committed to listening and supporting our Black athletes, Black students and members of our Black community and taking positive steps in the matters of social injustice and racism.”
Klieman said those in his program are safe with him.
“Our program and our coaches will continue to be part of the solution when it comes to racial injustice,” Klieman wrote on Twitter. “I love our players and they know I have their backs.”
Weber applauded student-athletes for speaking out.
"I am united with all our #KState student-athletes for using their voices to stand up to racism and injustice," he wrote. "This disgusting comment is not representative of the K-State that I know and love. I strive to continue to work with our team on solutions and against all hate."
Mittie called McNeil's tweet "disgusting and disturbing," looking for a brighter future.
"Our program and our coaches support our players and will continue to fight with them against racism and hate," he wrote. "We can and will create change for the better."