LSU’s athletic department sent an email to its student-athletes on Wednesday regarding the latest developments in the Alton Sterling case.
In the email, which was first reported by The Advocate and later obtained by SB Nation, LSU senior associate athletic director Miriam Segar communicated the department’s “respect and support” for athletes who may want to speak out after the Department of Justice announced it would not charge two white Baton Rouge police officers in the July 2016 shooting death of Sterling (which was captured on cell phone camera), an unarmed 37-year-old black man.
After saying that LSU “will maintain a safe learning and working environment” for all and noting resources (such as counseling) available for student-athletes, Segar writes, “We know this is a subject that many of you care deeply about and we respect and support your right to speak publicly and express your opinions.”
If athletes do decide to speak out, LSU has some guidelines it wants athletes to follow, including not wearing “LSU gear” or using “LSU branding.”
“As student-athletes, you are some of LSU’s most visible ambassadors,” Segar wrote. “Many of you enjoy a large following and with that comes responsibility. Remember that what you say and do directly impacts how people around the world view LSU. If you choose to express your opinion on this issue, including on social media, we ask that you do not wear LSU gear or use LSU branding.”
The email also encourages athletes to “show respect” for teammates and coaches who may have different opinions:
Show respect for your teammates and your coaches with what you say. Understand they may have different views than your own and many have personal connections and feelings about this case. Lean on and support each other as a team.
We expect this to be a very sensitive situation with heavy scrutiny from both local and national media. Remember that public comments on this topic may be their first and only impression of you.
Former LSU coach Les Miles spoke to his team in the wake of Sterling’s death and the protests that followed. Per The Advocate, Ed Orgeron, the team’s current head coach, had plans to do the same.
LSU athletes, including star running back Leonard Fournette, showed support for Sterling on social media after his death.
After federal prosecutors determined there was not enough evidence to levy civil rights charges against the two officers, the Sterling case will be handed over to the Louisiana Attorney General’s office. State charges could follow.
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