Sooners skip practice to protest fraternity’s racist video
Oklahoma’s scheduled spring practice didn’t happen on Monday.
In its place was a somber demonstration further condemning a racist video that surfaced on Sunday night.
In Monday’s team protest, Oklahoma’s players — mostly dressed in black — made their way into the team’s indoor facility and stood silently in rows for a short time. Coach Bob Stoops led the way as players, joined by athletic director Joe Castiglione, walked arm-in-arm.
They then met at midfield, recited the Lord’s Prayer and exited the facility locked arm in arm.
An Oklahoma spokesman told reporters the practice’s cancellation was a "captain’s decision."
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) March 9, 2015
— Eric Bailey (@EricBaileyTW) March 9, 2015
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) March 9, 2015
Meanwhile, a top high school recruit withdrew his commitment to the university after seeing the video.
Sunday night, a video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members surfaced that has made national headlines. In it, members are seen on a bus to a fraternity event singing a song that included a reference to lynching and the phrase "there will never be a n—— in SAE."
Oklahoma president David Boren announced the university has cut all ties with the fraternity and gave members until midnight Tuesday to remove their belongings from their on-campus house.
Boren attended a pre-dawn rally organized by students and lambasted the fraternity members as "disgraceful" and called their behavior "reprehensible." He said the university was looking into a range of punishment, including expulsion.
"This is not who we are," Boren said at a midday news conference on Monday. "I’d be glad if they left. I might even pay the bus fare for them."
Boren said the fraternity was "not totally forthcoming," and he was still trying to find out who was on the bus so the school could consider disciplinary actions.
He said the university’s legal staff was exploring whether the students who initiated and encouraged the chant may have violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination.
"We are also going to look at any individual perpetrators, particularly those that we think took a lead in this kind of activity," Boren said.
National leaders of Sigma Alpha Epsilon said late Sunday that its investigation confirmed members took part in the chant and announced it would close the local chapter. The national group said it was "embarrassed" by the "unacceptable and racist" behavior.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the efforts by the university and the national fraternity to repudiate the racist comments were "an appropriate step."
It’s unclear who recorded the video, when it was recorded and who initially posted it online. Boren suggested it was likely taken by another student who didn’t agree with what was being chanted.
OU Unheard, a black student group on campus, posted a link to the video after someone anonymously called it to the group’s attention Sunday afternoon, communications director Alexis Hall said Monday.
"We immediately needed to share that with the OU student body," Hall, a junior, told The Associated Press. "For students to say they’re going to lynch an entire group of people. … It’s disgusting."
The video appears to have been taken on a charter bus, with at least one of the chanting young men wearing a tuxedo.
Telephone and email messages left by The AP Monday with several members of the fraternity seeking comment on the video were not returned. Other members declined to comment.
"I was shocked they were just doing it openly on the bus, like they were proud of it," Jared Scarborough, a junior in construction science, told the AP. "From the chant you could tell they had done it before. It wasn’t a first-time thing. And it was everybody. And the fist-pumping."
North Mesquite High School football star Jean Delance, a top offensive lineman prospect, told KTVT television and KRLD-AM in Dallas-Fort Worth that he would not attend Oklahoma. He said he spoke Sunday night with coach Stoops, but wasn’t told about the incident.
"I’m very disappointed in the coaches not letting me know. ‘Hey, Jean, this is going on. Be aware. I don’t want you to be shocked tomorrow when you wake up,’" Delance told KRLD. "But that was just heart-breaking right there."
A university police cruiser was parked Monday outside the fraternity house, a sprawling two-story, sand-colored brick building on a street lined with Greek houses just west of the center of campus. The Greek letters were removed from the side of the house Monday afternoon.
The University of Oklahoma, located in the southern Oklahoma City suburb of Norman, has about 27,000 students, about 5 percent of whom are black. The Greek system is largely segregated.
Boren said fraternity members had "violated all that we stand for."
"Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between this University and the local SAE chapter are hereby severed," he said in a statement.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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