MN college president apologizes for team’s no-show during anthem

The president of Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls is apologizing for the football squad’s no-show during the National Anthem earlier this month.

“My first reaction was that it was a new strategy the coach was using to avoid the controversy of protest during the national anthem,” NCTC President Dennis Bona tells Forum Communications. “That turned out to be false.”

That the team wasn’t on the field for the anthem sparked criticism from veterans groups at the homecoming game.

But head coach Jim Cox said he lost track of time and the only option he had was having his players run on the field during the anthem. He thought that a bad idea.

“It was bad communication on my part,” Cox said. “I did a poor job, and my apologies to anyone offended.”

But Bona, who personally apologized to some veterans, makes one thing clear. If it had part of a series of protests against disparities in the criminal justice system, he wouldn’t have tried to stop it.

“As far as curtailing or taking any corrective action for … what I will refer to as the passive form of protest of the kneeling or the raising of their hands over their head during the national anthem, that’s something we are going to protect,” he said. “We are not going to encourage it, but we are going to allow that to happen.”

“Really, that is their personal choice,” Coach Cox said of players who might protest. “My brother was killed in Vietnam for their right to do so.”