Coaches and players from No. 5 Florida and Ole Miss kneeled before the opening kickoff of their game Saturday in Oxford, Mississippi, in joint acknowledgement of "the unrest in our country surrounding the treatment of African Americans."
"As members of the Ole Miss and Florida football teams, we recognize the impact of our personal platforms and are choosing to amplify the issues that directly impact us," read a statement released by Ole Miss. "Together we have chosen to take the opening series of today's competition to acknowledge the unrest in our country surrounding the treatment of African Americans. We will continue to support social justice efforts as members of the Southeastern Conference and members of our respective communities."
ESPN reported that Florida coach Dan Mullen and Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin came up with the idea. Their demonstration was not the first of the season in college football, but it was the most noteworthy to date as it came before the beginning of the SEC season and in a state with a sordid civil rights history.
SEC athletics played a role in getting the Confederate emblem removed from the Mississippi state flag earlier this year. Mississippi State star running back Kylin Hill said he would not "represent the state" until the flag was changed. Then in late June, Kiffin and Mississippi State coach Mike Leach were among key athletic figures from the state who appeared at the state legislature to lobby for changing the flag.