Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry threatened scholarships after LSU players missed the national anthem before a loss to Iowa

LSU's pregame routine suddenly became a political issue. (Photo by Scott Teach/NCAA Images via Getty Images)

The pre-game logistics of an Elite Eight loss to Iowa turned into a controversy that reached the governor's mansion on Tuesday.

Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry I posted a tweet The morning after LSU's 94-87 loss to Iowa, the Louisiana Board of Trustees called for a policy requiring student-athletes to sing the national anthem before the game or risk losing their scholarships.

Many conservative commentators had spent the previous several hours criticizing LSU players and coaches for not being on the field when the national anthem was played before the Elite Eight in Albany, New York.

Landry's full tweet:

“My mother coached high school women's basketball during the height of desegregation, and no one has greater respect for the sport and for Coach Mulkey. However, beyond respect for that game, there is a deeper respect for those who work to protect us and unite us under one flag!”

“It is time for all college boards, including Regent, to establish a policy requiring student-athletes to stand for the national anthem or risk their athletic scholarships! This is a matter of respect that all college coaches must instill.”

The lack of LSU players on the field was not a protest of any kind, as LSU coach Kim Mulkey explained after the game. The defending champion's coach told reporters that the team was following its usual routine before the match:

“Honestly, I don't even know when the national anthem was played. We have kind of a routine where they're on the floor and they come out at the 12-minute mark. I don't know, we come in and do pregame stuff. “I'm sorry, listen, nothing was done intentionally.”

Teams not being on the field or field during the national anthem is actually not uncommon across college athletics, including in the days before Colin Kaepernick began his protests against racial injustice after consulting with a former Green Beret about how to respectfully protest during the anthem.

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The governor's request was met with general confusion from LSU and its administrators. Jimmy Clark, Chairman of the Louisiana University System Board of Supervisors, said: Louisiana Illuminator“I see some difficulties trying to force something like this,” while state Higher Education Commissioner Kim Hunter Reed noted that the Board of Regents plays no role in decisions about scholarships.

Meanwhile, an LSU spokesperson said He noted in a statement Instead, the men's and women's basketball teams remained in the locker room during the national anthem to prepare for the game:

“Our basketball programs have not been on the court for the national anthem in the past several seasons. The anthem is usually played 12 minutes before the game when the team is in the locker room making final preparations.”

This isn't the first time the national anthem has become political theater at LSU, as the Illuminator noted that unnamed Louisiana legislators LSU's funding for players was threatened from He knelt during the anthem like Kaepernick. Then-LSU President F. King Alexander responded by noting that the team stays in the locker room during the national anthem.

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