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Cook, Huskers apologize for fans' reaction to Maryland players kneeling during national anthem
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Cook, Huskers apologize for fans' reaction to Maryland players kneeling during national anthem

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At the end of Nebraska’s volleyball match against Maryland on Friday, members of the Husker volleyball team apologized to the opposing team for the actions of some Husker fans earlier in the evening.

When the national anthem was sung before the match, a few Maryland players took a knee, which has occurred at other sporting events when student-athletes want to publicly protest something.

A few Nebraska spectators yelled at the Maryland players to "stand up.” Those shouts only lasted for a few moments but could be heard throughout the arena.

The Husker players were hurt by the Maryland players being yelled at, so much so that Nebraska coach John Cook said some of the Husker players were crying during a timeout early in the match.

During his news conference after the match, Cook said he was disappointed by what had happened Friday evening.

“I do want to say that our players were rattled during ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ because we had fans getting on the Maryland players,” Cook said. “We had a couple of players that were upset that were actually playing in the match.

“I just don’t think that’s our fans' place to say things during a match. It’s putting judgment on the other team, and this is a volleyball match. We’re not here to do that. So I’m a little disappointed that happened. And our players apologized to the Maryland players after the match. There are other ways to express people’s opinions, but not right after ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and introductions.”

Just moments after the match ended, the Nebraska players called the Maryland players to the middle of the court to apologize.

“Normally they don’t shake hands, and they called them over and talked to them,” said Cook, who began his career as a high school social studies teacher.

“We got a classy team. Again, I’m disappointed that happens at Nebraska at a volleyball match. I hope it doesn’t happen again. We all have our personal views on that, but that’s not the place to say anything.”

In a statement provided to the Journal Star on Saturday, Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts shared Cook’s disappointment.

“I would echo Coach Cook’s comments from last night after the match,” Alberts said. “I am disappointed that some of our fans would react that way, and apologize to the Maryland volleyball program. Our athletic events at Nebraska should always be a place where people can come together to enjoy great competition in a respectful environment.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.

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