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LSU women's basketball team skipping national anthem underscores 'bigger problem' for college sports: governor

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry appeared on "America Reports" Wednesday to explain his issue with LSU not sticking around for the national anthem.

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry started a firestorm on social media Tuesday when he called for a policy change after the LSU women’s basketball team, sticking to its pregame routine, skipped the national anthem.

The moment, caught by OutKick’s Dan Zaksheske at LSU’s Elite Eight matchup against Iowa, prompted Landry to call on schools to require a policy for student-athletes to be present for "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The Republican governor explained his reasoning to anchor Sandra Smith on "America Reports."

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"I’m not calling out the players or coach Mulkey. I support coach Mulkey. My statement said that. I think this is a bigger question," Landry said on Fox News Channel. "This is a bigger problem for collegiate sports nationally and in Louisiana. I just sent out a letter to each one of our college boards telling them that those college boards should put in place a policy that respects the national anthem. 

"The national anthem is as much a part of American sports as is the actual game that's being played. And the fact that there is not a policy, and it says, ‘Listen, these players are going to be out there and respect the flag and respect those that go out there and protect us is really disrespectful in and of itself.’

"So, it's unfortunate that LSU was not there at that particular time. Iowa was on the field that highlighted the particular problem. And what we're going to do is work in Louisiana. Say, ‘Listen, college athletes need to understand that in order to be truly united, in order to truly have civics and civility, we all need to be united under one flag and respect that anthem.’"

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Mulkey said after the game that nothing was "intentionally" done, that it was just part of the team’s routine. An LSU spokesman said the team hasn’t been out for the national anthem for several seasons.

"Well, again, I think that's something that the athletic department, the college president, the university president, the Board of Supervisors, and not just LSU, but other colleges and universities in Louisiana as well," Landry continued. "Look, I went out and threw one of the first pitches for the Florida-LSU game several weeks ago. The first thing the baseball team did, we had the national anthem. Both the teams were out there. 

"If you have consistency, you don't have these kind of problems. And guess what? It's as much a part of the fan experience, just like you said. I mean, think about a Little League baseball game. I've seen kids be more behaved during the national anthem than they are during the sport itself because it's a respect for our nation. And that's what I think we should be getting back to."

Landry was asked whether, per his policy, players would be required to stand for the anthem.

"That's what the university should put in place," he added. "They should. Everybody should respect the flag. If you don't like it, well, guess what? You don't have to play the sport. I would hope that all of the Final Four teams would be out there respecting our nation and letting everyone know that we're united under one flag."

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