Several members of the Ole Miss basketball team knelt during the national anthem before the team's matchup against Georgia on Saturday.
As "The Star-Spangled Banner" began, six Rebels players knelt one by one. Two more players also took a knee as the song entered its final line.
According to Watch Stadium's Jeff Goodman, the team's decision to take a knee comes in light of a pro-Confederate rally on Oxford's Square, one mile from The Pavilion at Ole Miss. The groups were protesting "Ole Miss' discontinuation of Colonel Reb as its mascot and other efforts the university has taken to distance itself from Confederate heritage," according to the Clarion-Ledger.
Upon his hiring last spring, Ole Miss head coach Kermit Davis said his team was "going to be a respectful team that respects the flag and the National Anthem. All those things from culture is what we're about."
In 2016, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the national anthem to protest and raise awareness against racial injustice in America. Athletes across the nation have since followed suit.
"This was all about the hate groups that came to our community trying to spread racism and bigotry," Davis said after the game. "It's created a lot of tension for our campus and our players made an emotional decision to show these people they are not welcome on our campus, and I respect our players's freedom and ability to choose that."
"We're just tired of these hate groups coming to our school and portraying our campus like it's our actual university having these hate groups in our school," center Breein Tyree said.
Tyree also tweeted that he and his teammates "meant no disrespect" to those who fight for the country. He elaborated on why the Rebels players wanted to "take a stand" by kneeling.
The Rebels are 18–8 and currently sit in fifth place in the SEC.