The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team, including the coaches, kneeled during the National Anthem before Saturday’s game at Florida, and a Kentucky sheriff is not happy about it. In a video posted to his Facebook page Sunday, Sheriff John Root, along with Jamie Mosley, who runs the Laurel County Correctional Center, burned their UK shirts in protest.
In the video, which appears to have been deleted, Root said the team’s actions made him feel “kind of disgusted and outraged,” and that the Wildcats had “disrespected the American flag and our national anthem”:
Laurel County Sheriff and Jailer burn their UK shirts in protest of UK kneeling last game pic.twitter.com/fyy71mnSJZ
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) January 11, 2021
Root even called out Kentucky coach John Calipari directly. “Here’s what I think about the program, coach until you can get these guys under control and lead by example,” Root said, as he tossed a Final Four shirt from “way back” into the fire.
Mosley offered disgruntled Kentucky fans the option of turning in their shirts and jerseys to the county jail Monday in exchange for “Back the Badge” shirts, which represent all first responders. Donated team shirts, or any other clothing donations, will be given to charity.
“I can’t promise what size you’re going to get, because I expect they’re going to go fast,” Mosley said. Mosley already had five or six bags worth of donated clothing by noon Monday, LEX18 reported. The report quoted local resident Jamie Gross, who donated clothes in return for a “Back the Badge” shirt, saying, “No, I won’t be watching games for a while.”
Coach Calipari said he was told about the team’s intent to kneel ahead of the game, and listened to their reasoning. “These kids are good kids,” he said. “They care about this country and all the other stuff. They’re trying to figure out life and making statements they think they have to make. I want to listen to what they’re saying, and then I’ll support them if they want me to be there.”
Kentucky guard Davion Mintz said the team’s decision to kneel “speaks for itself,” and forward Keion Brooks said the team’s decision was in response to Wednesday’s Capitol riot and “some other things that we don’t see that go on every day that are unacceptable.”
Sheriff Root also posted a lengthy commentary about the team’s decision to kneel on his Facebook page Saturday:
UK may have won the game but they lost their respect!!I honestly can’t believe a team from Kentucky ( the Hillbilly…
“Can you imagine the blood and sweat that has been lost for that flag??? I lost a Uncle in Vietnam fighting for our rights and I know a lot of veterans that have fought and each of you have family that have made sacrifices as well! But honestly to think that a so-called Coach and team would take such actions sickens me,” Root wrote.
In May, the entire University of Kentucky cheerleading coaching staff was fired after extreme hazing rituals that involved alcohol, nudity, and the chanting of a sexually-explicit song were uncovered. The investigation found that coaches were often present during hazing events, and one even filmed a video of the naked cheerleaders.
The University of Kentucky has a history of supporting left-wing causes. In July, the university was sued for plans to remove a mural that depicts various parts of Kentucky history, and in 2019 the university was forced to apologize after their staffers conspired to block the formation of a Conservative student group on campus.