A Berks County, Pennsylvania college is offering to reinstate three football players; one who was kicked off the team for kneeling during the national anthem, and two who were kicked off for not kneeling during the coin toss.
"What we understood to be shared agreement among players, student leaders, and coaches has not been adequately supported," Albright College president Jacquelyn S. Fetrow wrote in a letter to the Albright community. "As a result, each of the students dismissed from the football team for failure to comply with the team’s shared agreement established for that day has been offered reinstatement to the team."
The Division III school in Reading, Pennsylvania became embroiled in controversy last week for kicking backup quarterback Gyree Durante, a Norristown native and sophomore at the school, off the team. School officials said Durante went against what the college called a planned show of "team unity" when he kneeled during the national anthem before the team's matchup against Delaware Valley University on Oct. 7. It was the second game in row Durante had kneeled during the anthem, a gesture that he said was a protest against social injustices and racism in the country, echoing the sentiments of many professional players in the National Football League.
A spokeswoman for Albright College said Durante was kicked off the team for going against a team-wide decision to kneel during the coin toss of the game but stand during the anthem.
The spokeswoman said the action was recommended by the team’s leadership council, which is made up of 24 student-athletes selected annually by team members. She also said the players had an understanding that there may be consequences for anyone who chose not to support the team.
“One football player, who unbeknownst to the coach and the team, chose not to support team unity and has been dismissed from the team,” she wrote. “He remains a valued member of the Albright College student body.”
On Friday, Fetrow wrote on the school website that two more players were let go from the team after evidence arose that they didn't fully comply with the kneeling portion of the pre-game activities.
"Our ongoing investigation has uncovered additional evidence from last Saturday’s football game, which demonstrates two additional players chose not to follow the team’s shared commitment to unity. These players did not fully kneel when the team kneeled," Fetrow said in the statement posted online. "As before, these actions represent a failure to comply with team decision, actions which carry consequences."
In her newest statement Monday, Fetrow said they came to the decision to offer reinstatement for the three players after additional review of the situation "provided greater clarity."
"While we focused on the issue of trust and shared agreement on a football field, much larger issues of social and racial injustice were brought into the spotlight," she wrote. "These must be addressed. We are moving forward quickly and aggressively with a program that will engage our entire community, one that actively supports the full participation of all community members."
Officials have not yet revealed whether the three players have accepted the offer of reinstatement.