The “Chains, Tatoos, Dread & WE ARE” T-shirts Penn State players were wearing before Saturday night’s road game against Iowa apparently didn’t go over well with the school.
Penn State personnel confiscated the T-shirts, and, according to ESPN, Nittany Lions coach James Franklin was upset his players did not discuss beforehand that they were going to wear the shirts.
“While we are supportive of our students expressing themselves in a thoughtful manner, they are expected to wear team-issued apparel on game day,” Penn State said in a statement released during the game. “We asked our students to remove the shirts out of an abundance of caution for NCAA compliance.”
One player told ESPN the shirts were made and worn as a show of support for safety Jonathan Sutherland, who last week received a letter from a man who identified himself as a Penn State alum who was critical of his appearance.
Teammates said the were “unified” in their support for Sutherland.
On Tuesday, Sutherland tweeted out the letter, David Petersen wrote that the safety’s’ “shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting.”
The story took on a life of its own, with Franklin issuing an impassioned defense of Sutherland at his weekly news conference.
“Jonathan Sutherland is one of the most respected players in our program,” Franklin said of the redshirt junior. “He’s the ultimate example of what our program is all about. He’s a captain, he’s a dean’s list honor student, he’s confident, he’s articulate, he’s intelligent, he’s thoughtful, he’s caring and he’s committed.”
The reason Franklin disagreed with the players action, according to the report, is because he thought Penn State’s T-shirt message was not needed because the team already addressed the issue earlier in the week.