A college football team has cut a player for kneeling during the national anthem before a game.
Gyree Durante, a sophomore at Albright College in Reading, Pa., was a backup quarterback for the school’s Division III football team — until he took a knee while “The Star-Spangled Banner” played before the Lions’ game against Delaware Valley University on Saturday.
It was the second week in a row Durante took such an action, and this time it cost him his spot on the team.
“At some point in life, there’s going to be a time when you’ve got to take a stand,” Durante told NBC-10 in Philadelphia. “For me it just happened to be on Saturday afternoon.”
A spokesperson for the private liberal arts school explained the team’s position in a statement, saying that Durante acted on his own after the team agreed to a decision made by its 24-player leadership council to act as a group when it comes to the national anthem.
“The football team made a teamwide decision to both kneel during the coin toss and stand during the national anthem,” the spokesperson stated. “This action, which was supported by the coaching staff, was created as an expression of team unity and out of the mutual respect team members have for one another and the value they place on their differences. It was established as a way to find common ground in a world with many differing views.”
The spokesperson also wrote: “The team agreed to uphold the council decision, with the understanding that there may be consequences for those who choose not to support the team. One football player, unbeknownst to the coach and the team, chose not to support the decision of the leadership council and team. He has been dismissed from the team but remains a valued member of the Albright College student body.”
One of Durante’s former teammates told NBC-10 that Durante had broken the team’s trust by acting on his own during the anthem.
“We trusted him throughout the week, after time and time again he told us he would stand,” freshman defensive end Josh Powell said. “When you can’t have a player on a team that you can trust, he’s got to go.”
According to NBC-10, Durante is considering transferring to another college.
“I was just taught you fight for what you believe in and you don’t bow to anyone,” he said. “I believe heavily in this. So I decided to fight for it.”