While many basketball fans look forward to March for the friendly rivalries and competition that occurs between the best college teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, this spirit turned sour at a recent game held in Pittsburgh.
In a matchup between Southern Mississippi University and Kansas State University, members of the Southern Miss pep band were heard cat-calling a Kansas State player Angel Rodriguez as he shot his free throws.
Caught on tape by the game’s official video footage, band members can be heard chanting, “where’s your green card” as Rodriguez took his shot.
According to his official K-State athlete profile, Rodriguez, who is currently a freshman at Kansas State, was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and played basketball during high school at Dr. Michael Krop High School in Florida, where he was ranked fourth in the state. Because Puerto Rico is a United States commonwealth, Rodriguez’s U.S. citizenship has always been secure.
Southern Miss’ racist remarks toward Rodriguez did not seem to have an effect on his playing ability, however. Kansas State won the game 70-64, with Rodriguez chipping in 13 points and four assists.
Upon hearing of the incident, Southern Mississippi administration quickly reacted, issuing a public apology to Rodriguez.
“We deeply regret the remarks made by a few students at today’s game,” Martha Saunders, “The words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department or university. We apologize to Mr. Rodriguez and will take quick and appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved in this isolated incident.”
The March 15 loss was followed by Mississippi’s March 16 announcement that the state’s new immigration bill, “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act,” passed in the state’s House of Representatives by a vote of 70-47.