"Today, I had the opportunity to meet with Lobo football players including those who knelt during Saturday’s game against Air Force. We discussed the unfortunate events that led to this outcome, from their perspective. Senior officials (including myself) decided to deviate from normal practice and play the national anthem during the halftime. When the national anthem was played, the football players were on the field at a time when they would normally be in their locker rooms.

"Unfortunately, this decision was not conveyed to the coaches or players. They were caught off-guard. These players meant no disrespect to the flag, nor the military. These young men were put in a difficult situation and they quickly made the choice to show solidarity with the cause championed by players in the NFL. They did not break any laws – they exercised their rights as U.S. citizens.

"While some may or may not agree with the message, I fully support our student-athletes and their right to peacefully and legally express themselves. As an educational institution, we take every opportunity to learn and educate, and I hope that our community will appreciate that role and continue to help us bring our people together."

Chaouki Abdallah
Interim UNM President