A series of text messages between Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren and state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, show the two urged Kennesaw State University President Sam Olens to keep the school’s cheerleaders off the field while the national anthem is played. 

The texts were made public the week Olens, who took over as KSU’s president last November, is set to be formally sworn in during a ceremony held on campus Thursday at 10 a.m.

KSU spokesperson Tiffany Capuano said last week the Athletics Department’s decision to keep its cheerleaders in the tunnel ahead of football games had nothing to do with five of them taking a knee during the anthem last month to protest racial inequality and police brutality. But texts sent between the sheriff and the legislator appear to show them bragging about convincing Olens to keep them off the field.

“I don’t know if you have talked to Sam lately but I just got off the telephone with him (about) the unpatriotic cheerleaders kneeling during the national anthem,” Warren wrote to Ehrhart. “He assured me that the cheerleaders will not be on the field … Thanks for always standing up too (sic) these liberal that hate the USA.”

Ehrhart replied: “Yes we spoke last night. He had to be dragged there but with you and I pushing he had no choice. Thanks for your patriotism my friend.”

The KSU president’s time at the helm has been shrouded in controversy: his tenure began with students and faculty members protesting his presidency because of his conservative views and stance on LGBT rights.

He was thrust back into the spotlight earlier this month after KSU’s cheerleading squad was noticeably kept off the field the week after several took a knee during the anthem, bringing the protest to Cobb County.

Kneeling during the anthem as a form of protest was brought to national attention by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season as a way to draw attention to police brutality. The topic was reignited this year after drawing the ire of President Donald Trump, who called on NFL owners to fire any player who refuses to stand for the anthem.

Shlondra Young, one of the five KSU cheerleaders who took a knee before the school’s Sept. 30 game against North Greenville, attended a protest held by about 200 students on campus Monday in support of her squad.

She said they knew nothing about the gameday changes until a practice held two days after their decision to kneel during the anthem.

“We were scared, but we’re confident now that we made the right decision,” she said. “We wanted to highlight inequality, social injustice and police brutality.”

Young said she and the other four cheerleaders will continue to kneel ahead of football games, even if they must to do it from the tunnel.

The kneeling controversy may be deflating enthusiasm for Olens’ investiture ceremony on Thursday: An email sent to KSU’s college deans from the director of university events last week urged them get more faculty members and students to attend the event.

“At this time we only have 74 faculty in attendance,” the email reads. “We have 6-plus more colleges than we did 10-plus years ago for our last Investiture Ceremony and a lot less faculty so far participating in the ceremony.”

The email urges the deans to encourage faculty members who aren’t teaching to attend. Those who are teaching were urged to bring their classes to the ceremony.

Olens’ investiture will be held at 10 a.m. in the Convocation Center followed by a celebration on the Campus Green at noon.

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(18) comments

Anonymous Commenter

Bunch of lying old white guys lied their rear ends off? And got busted because they still don't understand how texting works? As Gomer Pyle say, Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! Dumb old coalflakes need to be put out to pasture

Anonymous Commenter

Racist much? "Old white guys." "Dumb old coalflakes." You've lost the argument with your juvenile vocabulary there Gomer. Not to mention your limited credibility.

Anonymous Commenter

Always nice to see our elected officials upholding their oath to the Constitution by supporting public university students' First Amendment right to protest. Oh wait, that's not what happened?! Neil Warren and Earl Ehrhart both should both be voted out of office. If you don't even have a basic understanding of the Constitution you have no business serving in a position of power in government.

Anonymous Commenter

I love it when people throw out the First Amendment as the justification for protesting during the Honoring of our flag. The problem is they want protection to dishonor the flag, but they don’t want it to apply as it was intended which covers a student on campus preaching the gospel. You don’t get to have it both ways!

Anonymous Commenter

Actually I can have it both ways, the First Amendment covers BOTH scenarios. Let me ask you this: how would you feel if a Democrat congressman pressured a university president to prohibit a preacher from speaking in the common area of the university campus? I'm willing to bet that would bother you... it would bother me, too.

Anonymous Commenter

They can protest, just not on this particular platform. This is a school sponsored event that people pay to see a football team play. They are there to represent and cheer on their school. I am all for protesting and standing up for what you believe is right and what is fair for all. It's just that they need to protest on their own time and not during a football team where patrons pay money to watch a game. And I also don't like ANYONE telling half-truths and lies. Not acceptable from anyone - especially elected officials.

Anonymous Commenter

Why is money always brought up in these cases? What I mean is that each time people say they don't want people to kneel during the national anthem they always say that "people didn't pay to see protesting". Ok, cool. The thing is that no one paid to sing the national anthem either. It's amazing that kneeling for a better life for people during the playing of a song(that is not "American") is such an issue. That song and flag DO NOT make America...nor do they represent America. We do. Soldiers don't fight for a flag or anthem. They fight for the people. Those kneeling kneel for the people as well.

Anonymous Commenter

Is this a surprise? I think anyone with an once of reasoning could have figured out the Sheriff, a season ticket holder, was pushing to stop the on field protesting during the national anthem. I’m happy the cheerleaders were able to protest in the tunnel. Seems like a good place for it.

Anonymous Commenter

The Sheriff swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. By using his public office to stifle the free speech of students, he violated that oath. The fact that he's also a season ticket holder is immaterial.

Anonymous Commenter

Seems like the Sheriff and the State Representative must not care for Kennesaw's new President Olens seeing as how they set him up like they did (unless they really are just complete idiots). This surely is not their first open records rodeo. Obvious setup. Olens fell for it. What a maroon!

Anonymous Commenter

Isn't "conspired" the word to use, rather than "pushed"? And isn't "violate the civil rights of cheerleaders" the phrase to use instead of "keep them off the field"? When state officials work to stop peaceful protest, Houston's has a problem.

Anonymous Commenter

While I do think the argument that free speech may not be appropriate at paid events on private property has some merit, this is the proverbial slippery slope. Who determines when and where free speech is appropriate?

Anonymous Commenter

News flash - the school has the right to tell the cheerleaders and the team where to go at the time the national anthem is played. If the president doesn't want the cheerleaders out showing their rear ends and ticking off the alumni, he can tell them to stay in the tunnel. He isn't violating their rights. If they don't like it, they can quit and buy a ticket and kneel in the stands.

Sturm and Drang

The good ol' boy network has a high bandwidth pipeline straight from the dark underbelly of Cobb right to the Golden Dome. Olens, Earhart, Warren, and the Cobb County cartel will stop at nothing to impose their Boss Hogg/Hazzard County morality on the university system.

Anonymous Commenter

Kennesaw State University is public property and all three old white men working to suppress a civil rights demonstration on public property are government employees. Alla that put a real 1st Amendment issue on the table for the Board of Regents to look at. Of course the Feds will reward Olens with a golf trophy, or wait, all this is designed to make Olens a coalflake scapegoat so Trump picks him up isn't it.

Anonymous Commenter

So I guess it is not the liberals, nor the Federal Government, who are trying to stifle our constitutional rights after all...............

Anonymous Commenter

:-)

Anonymous Commenter

It was just a matter of time before Olens would step in it. Minor league player.

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