Roy Williams, Current, Former UNC Athletes Decry Silent Sam Statue
North Carolina men's basketball coach Roy Williams said that he is "not in favor of the university re-erecting the Silent Sam statue," which portrays a Confederate soldier, and a group of more than 240 current and former student-athletes signed an "open letter condemning the university’s proposal" for the statue, according to Jonathan Alexander of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. UNC earlier this month "proposed a plan to put the statue in a secured" $5.3M history center on campus, but that plan was "rejected by the UNC system Board of Governors in a meeting on Friday." Four current UNC basketball players -- G K.J. Smith., F Garrison Brooks, G Brandon Robinson and F Sterling Manley -- "signed the letter" against the statue's re-erection. Williams said, “I talked to our guys about it and told them if they feel strongly about it, go right ahead. I think it’s their individual rights, and I think they should if they feel strongly about it.” He also said, in his belief, "it would be best" for the statue to "not be here" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 12/15). In N.Y., Marc Tracy noted signers of the open letter against the proposal also included former NBAer Jerry Stackhouse, Hawks F Vince Carter and Mavericks F Harrison Barnes, who all played at UNC, as well as "more recent stars" like Nets F Theo Pinson and Kings F Justin Jackson (N.Y. TIMES, 12/15).
POWER PLAYERS: In Raleigh, Luke DeCock wrote it is "going to be hard for university leaders to dismiss the anger of this growing group of principled and determined athletes from across all sports." Athletics is more important to UNC than the academic world "would ever care to admit, and having such a wide cross-section of athletes from varying sports and diverse backgrounds demanding action isn’t going to help the university’s image." These athletes are "awakening to something college athletes around the country are slowly discovering: They have, by virtue of their sports, tremendous power." If UNC’s basketball team "were to decide that Silent Sam is important enough to take some kind of action, some kind of protest, even threaten to boycott a game if it comes to that, the entire battleground would shift" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 12/15).