LSU's Ed Orgeron 'Fully Supported' Players' Protest; Wants Open Dialogue
By Jason Hall
September 3, 2020
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said he "fully supported" his football team's recent social justice protest and wants to have "more open dialogue" on similar issues moving forward.
The recent national champion told The Advocate in Baton Rogue that he had a meeting with his team after last Friday's protest and has since tried to learn about how social injustice and racism affects his players.
“We talked about it as a team,” Orgeron said. “Getting more educated about it, letting our guys voice their opinions, talking about the things they're going through and how we can be a part of the solution.”
Last Friday, several LSU football players scheduled a peaceful protest through campus just prior to the team's scheduled practice. Orgeron said he didn't know about the protest before it happened and sent assistant coaches to meet with the players as they gathered outside Tiger Stadium 30 minutes before a scheduled team meeting to see if they planned on attending.
The players instead marched toward the university administration building, telling The Advocate they were inspired by professional athletes who chose to protest following an incident in which a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot multiple times in the back by a White police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week.
The players spoke with interim LSU president Tom Gallgian about their concerns and asked how the school planned on addressing racism on its campus, noting that they wanted their voices to be heard. Soon after, the players gathered around assistant coach Corey Raymond in the parking lot and said they wanted to speak with Orgeron, according to The Advocate.
“I got a call, 'Coach, the team would like to meet you. They're in the president's office,’” Orgeron said. “That's the next thing I heard.”
The coach arrived 30 minutes later with LSU athletic director Scott Woodward at the board of supervisor's room where the players had been waiting for him. Orgeron told The Advocate that he stood in front of the room for an hour and listened as the players explained why they marched, expressed their opinions and shared personal experiences with the coach, which Orgeron said he never knew about.
“We said things that are on our chest,” senior safety JaCoby Stevens told The Advocate. “I think we're going to grow as a football team and as a family from that."
Stevens and senior defensive end Andre Anthony, the players who led the march, both expressed gratitude for Orgeron's response and appreciated that the coach listened to their concerns.
“Coach O demonstrated support and presented us with the utmost respect by listening to our points of view as Black athletes in an attempt to understand the challenges we face,” Anthony shared on Twitter. “The first step is acknowledging that there is an issue and we need change. I commend him for his efforts.”
Coach O demonstrated support and presented us with the upmost respect by listening to our points of view as black athletes in an attempt to understand the challenges we face. The first step is acknowledging that there is an issue and we need change. I commend him for his efforts.— Andre Anthony🎈 (@DreAnthony7) August 29, 2020
LSU returned to practice in full pads on Monday, which came one week after the majority of its offensive line was in quarantine due to a coronavirus exposure.