National News

Civil rights leaders demand resignation of KSU president

Posted December 6, 2017 12:51 p.m. EST

— Civil right leaders gathered Wednesday on the campus of Kennesaw State University demanding the resignation of the university's president over his handling of the cheerleaders who took a knee for the National Anthem during a game in September.

Local pastors and members of the Cobb County branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said Sam Olens is "unfit" for the job.

The Georgia Board of Regents recently took the university to task for not following state legal guidance after the five cheerleaders decided to kneel during the anthem.

The University System of Georgia had basically said you can't stop students from kneeling as long as they're not being disruptive. It also said if a campus wanted to make any changes related to the kneeling, it would first need to run it by the University System of Georgia.

The following football game, KSU made some changes without approval. It changed the pregame ceremony so that cheerleaders wouldn't be on the field at all during the anthem.

Olens later reversed that decision, allowing the cheerleaders to once again be on the field as the anthem was played. Olens previously said, in part, "in hindsight, I regret how the events over the past two weeks have unfolded and admit that the circumstances could have been handled better."

CBS46 spoke with some of those cheerleaders in October, but they would not go on camera, saying their coach told them not to speak with the media. So CBS46 confronted that coach, who declined to comment.

The controversy is all happening during a fantastic season for the football team, which has won 12 games so far this season and is headed to the third round of the NCAA FCS playoffs.

But it's the cheerleaders who have gotten national attention.

CBS46 has reached out to Olens' office to get his reaction to the SCLC's demand that he resign. We'll continue to provide updates.