Tim Miles, Evan Taylor and Glynn Watson Jr. met with the media on Friday ahead of their Saturday showdown with Rutgers. However, they had something more important than the game to address first.
On Thursday evening, each member of the men’s basketball team tweeted out one simple phrase: “Hate will never win.”
Dang. Goosebumps.#Huskers pic.twitter.com/XWGVbHRtAE
— Kelly Mosier (@kmosier42) February 9, 2018
The tweets were a reaction to the recent revelation of a video showing a student on campus, Daniel Kleve, espousing white nationalism and speaking about violence.
Senior guard and team captain Evan Taylor opened the press conference with a prepared statement.
“In light of the recent events on campus regarding hate speech, on behalf of the Nebraska basketball team, we would like to deliver a message against racism that encourages positivity,” Taylor said. “We encourage all of the Husker athletes and the student body to get behind us. The message that we want to send is hate never wins and to spread love.”
The simultaneous social media display was a first step for the Huskers who have no desire to stick to sports.
“We talked about it in our group message how we were going to use our platform to spread the positivity message, and the idea came up that we should all tweet it at the same time so it gets everybody’s attention,” Taylor said. “The slogan was just a collective thing; we all chipped in ideas.”
Watson said the players felt it was important to speak up not only for themselves, but for their fellow students.
“I was just disappointed,” Watson said. “I just want to feel safe on campus and things like that; I know the guys want to feel safe. There are a lot of people out there like that, and that’s what the administrators were telling us — you never know what’s going to go on. I feel like we’re OK, but we want to do it for the people that don’t feel OK and the students on campus that don’t have a say.”
Coach Tim Miles said the team met with members of the administration prior to making any kind of action.
“Yesterday when we met, we had a chance to meet with some administration,” Miles said. “They educated us on what they’re doing, and they’ve got an enormously complicated situation. We chose to simplify it and we look at it as we’re against racism, prejudice and hate speech. So how can we deliver something positive that the other students of UNL can rally around, whether it be somebody on the women’s basketball team, the volleyball team, the baseball team, the football team, or anybody? That’s important to our guys, it’s important to me as their coach that our guys came up with the motto that hate never wins; I love it. I think it hits home and makes sense to us as athletes.”
Miles made it clear that these actions have been entirely player-driven, and a few tweets aren’t all they hope to accomplish in the name of spreading positivity.
“I think what was cool about the whole process with the guys getting together — I was able to come in just at the end of the meeting — is they had a lot of thoughtful discussion on what the right thing to do was, and there were a lot of different ideas,” Miles said. “The old ‘reasonable minds can disagree’ — some guys thought this, some guys thought that, they took the general consensus that was in the majority, what can we do, what can we all stand behind? As we move forward, there are going to be events that hopefully we can stage on behalf of men’s basketball where we invite others.”
One thing the team is planning on is to wear warm-up shirts displaying the same message as their tweets: “Hate will never win.” Miles also said the team will work with the office of multicultural affairs to plan further action.
“We’re working on some other things, maybe an announcement of some sort where our guys can step up and speak their minds that they help write,” Miles continued. “I think all those things are important. I’m proud of these guys, because they want to be involved. It would be easy to shrug your shoulders and say, ‘That doesn’t have anything to do with me. Heck, we’re winning some games; let’s talk about the ball games.' But to be so adamant about ‘Hey, we want to step up and see what we can do here. Not just a one-game thing; let’s look at this and try to make a difference.’”
Overall, Miles said seeing his players act the way they have has made him proud of them. As soon as he saw how unified the team was in their desire to act, he said was all in along with them.
“It tells me that they have integrity,” Miles said. “It tells me that they’re thoughtful about others, they have compassion and empathy and they’re against some real bad things, evil things in this world. That’s the way I’d expect them but for them to go out and be adamant about making a statement gives me goosebumps right now just talking about it.”
Miles showed his support in another way as well. On Wednesday, students held a rally on campus against hate speech and Miles was there.
“I think as the head coach, it was important for me to let our guys know that I’m with them; I’m with them,” Miles said. “I’ve never gone through that, whether it be a matter of privilege or whatever, I don’t walk in shoes of racism. When you see something like that, that made me so — my daughter sent it to me on Monday night, late, and she’s considering going to UNL. She’s like ‘What’s going on, Dad?’ It just made me sad, it made me so disappointed and sad for our guys. I just felt like being there — there was a lot of chatter going around. What’s it going to be like? Is this going to be confrontational? What’s going to be there?
“It didn’t matter; I wanted our guys to know, and I also wanted to get them information of what was going on there, so I videoed Alex — he’s the RA; I don’t know his last name but he is a rock star. He was phenomenal, and I videoed his message and sent it to the guys so they could hear what others are saying and knew what was going on. I was there for them.”
The players certainly took note of Miles actions.
“I think it just shows how much Coach Miles has our back,” Taylor said. “As soon as we came to him with the idea, he was on board, he was all ears. For him to go out, take time out of his day, especially in the midst of our season, to take a couple hours out of his day to go hear about something that doesn’t really concern him but it concerns his players, it lets us know he has our back.”
Miles wasn’t the only one showing support for the players. Athletic Director Bill Moos released a statement backing up the players as well.
“I fully support the positive and unified message our men’s basketball team is sharing,” Moos’ statement read. “I’m proud of our student-athletes for taking a stance against hate, prejudice and racism and I want them to know that the safety and well-being of all of our student-athletes is our top priority.”
Taylor said he hopes his fellow students will rally behind the message the Huskers are spreading.
“We hope and pray they get behind us,” Taylor said. “We’re trying to stand up for something that’s bigger than basketball and bigger than ourselves individually. It’s people really out here dealing with things. People are really dealing with fear and stuff. We want to let people know that we feel your pain and we want to be there for you.”
The desire for unity is the source of the words the players chose.
“I think it just represents the message to spread love,” Taylor said. “We’re all humans, whether you play basketball, whether you’re just a normal student, we’re all humans and we all feel the same emotions. Nobody ever wants to feel unsafe or feel like they aren’t loved. Spread love.
“Hate will never win in this word.”
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.