When his team returned to its locker room Tuesday night after an important road win at Minnesota, Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles wondered why the Huskers’ postgame celebration was unusually subdued.
Only after the team boarded its bus to the airport did Miles discover that his players had something more important than basketball on their minds.
One of Nebraska’s captains texted Miles a few minutes into the bus ride asking to arrange a team meeting when the Huskers returned to Lincoln. The players wanted to discuss an appropriate way to respond to a chilling and incendiary video that had been circulating on social media the previous two days.
Anti-Fascist Action Nebraska posted a video on Monday containing clips of Nebraska student Daniel Kleve proclaiming himself the state’s most active white nationalist, espousing racist views and discussing his desire to commit violent acts. The video alleges that Kleve participated in the white supremacist rally last August in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“When my players realized that there’s a person with hate in his heart walking across campus and attending classes with other students and athletes, that struck close to home,” Miles told Yahoo Sports on Friday morning. “They wanted to do something to show that they’re willing to take a firm stand against hate speech and against racism.”
Miles’ daughter had sent him the video the previous day and he was as disturbed by it as his players were. He arranged a team meeting on Thursday and asked Nebraska administrators to speak with his players about what the university was doing to keep students safe.
At the meeting, Nebraska players brainstormed about what they could do to peacefully yet forcefully make it clear that racism should not be tolerated.
They made plans to write and film a public service service announcement to air before home games. They agreed to warm up before games in long-sleeve T-shirts bearing the slogan, “Hate Will Never Win.” And they decided to involve their fellow students and other teams at Nebraska in their cause and to partner with the university’s office of multicultural affairs to figure out what else they could do to spread their message.
Nebraska has a legitimate chance to reach a lot of people over the next month given that the Huskers are in the midst of their best season since 2014. They’ve won six of their last seven games to surge into fourth place in the Big Ten and rekindle hopes of a return to the NCAA tournament.
The Huskers took the first step toward spreading their message Thursday night when every player on the team simultaneously tweeted their slogan, “Hate will never win.”
The barrage of tweets put a smile on Miles’ face when he spotted them a couple hours later.
“I’m proud of them,” he said. “A coach can drive a lot of things and programs can pretend to be something, but when there’s ownership and it’s player-driven, then it’s truly meaningful. They want to take a stand in a positive way, and I’ll support them any way I can.”
– – – – – – –