Iowa Hawkeyes' social-justice demonstration during national anthem delayed a week

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Whatever the Iowa football team is planning to do during the pregame playing of the national anthem this season won't be revealed until next week.

Hawkeye players have been given the permission of coach Kirk Ferentz for the first time to kneel for "The Star-Spangled Banner" as a demonstration for increased racial justice in America.

But neither the Iowa nor Purdue teams were expected to be on the sideline for the national anthem Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium, where are beginning a delayed Big Ten Conference season. That is customary for games here under the Boilermakers' fourth-year head coach, Jeff Brohm.

More:Opinion: Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz has been listening to players, so he's giving them option to kneel during anthem

Ferentz said this week that he changed his mind on demonstrations during the national anthem after a series of meetings with his players over the summer after social-justice demonstrations began sweeping the country in the wake of George Floyd's death while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers.

"Everybody was respectful of each other's opinions, and I'm convinced right now that we'll see a variety of stances taken by our team," Ferentz said.

"But I can also tell you that what I've heard from three separate meetings is everybody is respectful of each other. Nobody is judging each other. Nobody is taking roll, any of that kind of stuff. They're acting like a team should. I'm extremely impressed with the way the guys have handled it."

Iowa football players all stood for the national anthem before a 2018 game at Kinnick Stadium. When the Hawkeyes play their first home game of 2020 next Saturday vs. Northwestern, players will have the option of kneeling as a demonstration for greater racial equality in America.

Iowa wide receiver Tyrone Tracy Jr., who is Black, said Tuesday that he intends to kneel during the national anthem, but he wasn't sure how many of his teammates would follow suit. He said whether kneeling or standing, all players would still join hands as a show of team unity.

On Friday, the Big Ten announced a "United As One" social-justice campaign that will involve all 14 teams this season. At Iowa, that means players will wear custom stickers that promote equality and equity, as well as increased engagement on those topics on social media.

Iowa hosts Northwestern at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday, and the team is typically on the sideline for the playing of the national anthem.

Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.