Stephen F. Austin players took a knee on the field with fists raised in an apparent show of solidarity in the fight for social justice before a kickoff after they scored a touchdown in the first quarter of their game against UTEP on Saturday. The moment happened after the Lumberjacks took a 7-0 lead on the road at UTEP in the first game of the season for both teams. It was the first outward, in-game display of protest in the early part of the 2020 college football season.
For stopping play, Stephen F. Austin was assessed a delay of game penalty.
Elsewhere, the Eastern Kentucky coaches wore "Say Their Names" shirts in the Colonels' loss to Marshall. But Stephen F. Austin's protest carried particular weight because it occurred on the field in the midst of play. The Lumberjacks are an FCS team-- same as Eastern Kentucky -- and their show of solidarity came after an impressive 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive to open the game.
It's not the first time Stephen F. Austin athletes have made their voices in recent months as the country has grappled with continued instances of police brutality. The school's student-athlete advisory committee shared the following message last month:
"As we continue to watch the devastating impact of social injustice unfold across our nation, it is important that our voices are heard," the group wrote in a statement. "The human treatment of humans is not a recommendation by us. It [is] the requirement to make change and unify our communities. As the leaders of our athletic programs and the voice of all student athletes, we acknowledge the need for compassion, unity and reform. We oppose all forms of discrimination and we are committed to improving the lives of our black student athletes and all of those affected by social injustice."