ECU officials 'regret the actions' of band members' protest

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About a dozen members of the Marching Pirates kneeled during the national anthem (WTVD)

Some East Carolina officials say the school will not tolerate further protests after the backlash from fans following some members of the ECU marching band kneeling during the national anthem.

Before the UCF game Saturday, nearly 20 of the Marching Pirates took a knee. Some played their instruments, some did not. Boos erupted during the anthem and at halftime when the band performed.

Band director William Staub, School of Music director Christopher Ulffers and College of Fine Arts and Communication dean Christopher Buddo issued a joint statement Monday.

They say they "regret the actions" taken by the 19 members who took a knee during the ceremonies before the game against Central Florida last week.

They say they expect the members of the Marching Pirates "will learn from this experience and fulfill their responsibilities." They call the protests "hurtful to many in our Pirate family and disrespectful to our country."

East Carolina athletic director Jeff Compher released a statement on the incident:

"We are working with the university and the school of music in response to the incident with the band prior to the game on Saturday. While the marching band does not report to athletics, we do count on them to be an important part of the game day experience.

There are ongoing conversations with university, the school of music and the band, and we are confident that there will be a positive resolution for future games.

Our football program relies on the passion of our fan base and we will continue to proudly lead our team out the tunnel with the American flag for each and every game."

A growing number of athletes and students have demonstrated across the country during the national anthem, following the lead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He cited racial injustice and police brutality as reasons for his protest.

On Saturday, Dr. Cecil Staton, chancellor of East Carolina University, issued the following statement:

"As an institution of higher learning, East Carolina respects the rights of our students, staff and faculty to express their personal views. That is part of the free exchange of ideas on a university campus. While we acknowledge and understand the disappointment felt by many Pirate fans in response to the events at the beginning of today's football game, we urge all Pirate students, supporters and participants to act with respect for each other's views. Civil discourse is an East Carolina value and part of our ECU creed. We are proud that recent campus conversations on difficult issues have been constructive, meaningful exchanges that helped grow new understanding among our campus community. East Carolina will safeguard the right to free speech, petition and peaceful assembly as assured by the U.S. Constitution."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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