NCAA March Racist Madness?

I am a full blooded member of the ACC family when it comes to college basketball. I went to UVA for my bachelors, got my PhD from UNC Chapel Hill and have family that went to Duke and Boston University. So I can say with absolute confidence that I’ve heard some of the most obnoxious chants you can imagine from pep bands and fans during games.

I remember going to Duke games in the 90’s where in the rare case of them actually losing a home game they would chant: “That’s alright, we’re okay, you’ll all work for US some day!” Which was incredibly obnoxious (and likely true).

During its 30 year run from 1974 to 2004 The University of Virginia’s Pep Band was known for wild parties and edgy humor during games. Yet, no matter how wild and crazy the fans or the bands got at either of these schools no one ever dared do something as racist and tacky as what some band members at the University of Southern Mississippi did during their recent game with Kansas State.

During crucial free throws and key plays Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez was being heckled by a few bad eggs in the Southern Miss Pep band. They chanted “Where’s Your Green Card?” in order to knock the Miami-raised Puerto Rican born player off his game. Of course it didn’t work, Kansas State won the game 70 – 64 and Rodriguez had 13 points and 4 assists.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

In a move that should be a warning shot to overzealous fans and bands across the NCAA, Southern Miss kicked the five students out of the Pep Band, put them into sensitivity training and revoked their scholarships as well.

To be honest, they probably should’ve been forced to take a history class on top of that to inform them that Puerto Rico is an American territory and thus you don’t need a “Green Card” to come from Puerto Rico to the U.S. anyway.

While I generally favor a zero tolerance policy for racist and sexist behavior during sporting events (I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan so I’ve heard plenty of rants from fans that would make a Klan member blush), I think in this instance Southern Mississippi might’ve gone a little too far. According to a statement released by Joe Paul, Southern Miss Vice President for Student Affairs:

“ The students have been forthcoming, cooperative, contrite and sincerely remorseful. They acted rashly and inappropriately, and now see the gravity of their words and actions. This is a teachable moment, not only for these students, but for our entire student body and those who work with them.”

I believe that they should have been kicked out of the band. Representing your school is an honor and if you fail to respect that opportunity it can be taken from you. However, I don’t believe that a student should lose a scholarship for the rest of their college career based on one mistake during a game. Perhaps the scholarships were linked to being on the Pep band and this was an inevitable result. If that was the case, these five students just had an incredibly expensive “teachable moment”.

This article originally appeared online at


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