Lawrence BLM Protest

A "Black Lives Matter" sign is planted in a flowerbed on the corner of 9th and Massachusetts Street. 

As demonstrators flooded streets in Lawrence and most major cities in the United States to protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd over the past weekend, leadership in Kansas Athletics released statements denouncing racism.

Athletic Director Jeff Long released a statement Saturday on the behalf of Kansas Athletics, signed by every head coach. It was shortly followed by individual statements from men’s basketball coach Bill Self and football coach Les Miles.

While the press release from Jeff Long’s desk did not directly refer to the topic of police brutality in America, Long emphasized that Kansas Athletics will never stand for acts of racism or violence. 

“We do not tolerate any acts of racism or violence and promote an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusivity,” Jeff Long said in the statement. “We join together as an athletic department, united in hopes to end the unconscionable acts of racism.” 

Self and Miles both used their platforms to send their condolences to the family of George Floyd in their statements. Self said it is "incomprehensible that this level of racism occurs in this day and age."

“The conversations we have had as a team recently about the racial acts of violence is one that no amount of words can ever do justice," Self said in his statement. "I am frustrated that we as a country have not done our part to create equal rights for individuals. We must be better.” 

Miles pointed to his coaching background and how he's "had the good fortune of bringing young men together to achieve a common goal — building a team."

“My heart hurts as I reflect on the racism that still exists in this country and the civil unrest we currently find ourselves in," Miles said in his statement. "Regardless of race and color we cannot keep turning a blind eye to those who need our support and action now more than ever."

The Big 12 Conference also came out in solidarity and released a joint video on Twitter Monday night. The video includes snippets of Self among the other Big 12 men’s basketball coaches talking about the need for change.

"It's time for us to use our platforms to make a difference, and to be part of the conversation to help create solutions," the coaches said in the video. "It's time for a change."