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EXCLUSIVE: UT chancellor says players should ‘stand up straight’ during National Anthem

Prediction that William McRaven ‘will be criticized by the Left’

The retired Navy admiral who organized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden is using his bully pulpit to ensure that college athletes and their coaches respect the American flag.

In a Jan. 6 memo obtained by The College Fix, University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven told campus presidents and athletic directors that the flag and the National Anthem demand the full attention of game participants.

Those leaders should “encourage coaching staff and players to stand up straight when the National Anthem is being played; to face the flag and place their hand over their heart as a sign of respect to this nation,” McRaven said in the memo, printed on Office of the Chancellor letterhead.

At least one regent of the UT system is encouraging others to give their support to McRaven’s request for proper decorum during games.

“The flag represents all that is good and decent about these United States,” McRaven wrote in the memo, noting that some UT athletes were representing the university system around the world.

“Honoring the flag does not imply all that the Republic for which it stands is perfect,” McRaven said: “Far from it, honoring the flag is our collective commitment that we will constantly attempt to get better as a nation, to improve as a people, and to use the freedoms we have been given to make the earth a better place.”  

That is why it’s “more important than ever for us to show respect for the flag; to demonstrate to the world that we are teaching our young men and women to honor the principles that made this country great,” McRaven continued.

“It is a simple act but I believe it will have a lasting affect [sic] on those that see it,” he said.

‘No specific behavior’ prompted the memo

Before becoming chancellor of UT System a year ago, Adm. McRaven spent more than 37 years in the U.S. Navy.

McRaven’s office declined to explain his intentions to The Fix.

william-mcraven-chancellorJenny LaCoste-Caputo, executive director of public affairs and media relations for the UT system, initially told The Fix that the memo was not “an order” to presidents and athletic directors, “but more of a recommendation.”

In a followup text message Monday morning after consulting with McRaven’s office, LaCoste-Caputo told The Fixthere was no specific behavior or incident that promoted [sic] his memo. It is simply something he feels strongly about and wanted to offer the recommendation to the campuses.”

In an email obtained by The Fix that’s intended to drum up support for McRaven’s request, an economics professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, Svetozar “Steve” Pejovich, asked unidentified “colleagues and friends” to reach out to McRaven with their own support.

“I have no doubt that Chancellor McRaven, who I believe is a Democrat, will be criticized by the Left for writing this memo,” Pejovich said. He reprinted a letter to McRaven from his daughter Brenda, who is a UT regent, asking recipients to “choose to follow the example” she set:

As a daughter of immigrants, and granddaughter of a POW, I strongly support your letter advising our Athletic Directors, staff, and players to stand up straight with hands over hearts to show respect for the National Anthem.  Let us show our pride in cherishing the freedoms bestowed upon us by the Founders of this great country and may we never forget those who fought for, and continue to fight for, these privileges.

Humbly,

Brenda Pejovich

Steve Pejovich declined to explain to The Fix who he was trying to mobilize with his email. The Fix could not immediately reach Brenda Pejovich for comment on her role in building support for McRaven.

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About the Author
Peter Maxwell, Master’s Degree in Communication and Media Studies, Lynn University. BA, Curry College, broadcast journalism.

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