“In their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America,” College of the Ozarks President Jerry Davis said in a statement released on Wednesday. “If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them. We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform."
This is not the first time College of the Ozarks, which employs a "Dean of Patriotism," has deliberately waded into the national anthem controversy.
In 2017, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II Men's basketball tournament was originally scheduled to take place at College of the Ozarks but was eventually moved to a new venue at the college's request. College of the Ozarks enforces a strict "no pledge, no play" policy, which requires players to stand for the national anthem before games on its campus.
"All members of the College community are expected to stand, be respectful, and attentive when colors are presented and anytime the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, and/or when the Star Spangled Banner is played/sung," the college's website states.
The 1,500-person school is an NAIA-member school and its boycott will have much more symbolic impact — however large that actually is — than financial impact to Nike’s bottom line. The College of the Ozarks fields teams in six different sports in addition to cheerleading. The school does not field a football team.
“Nike is free to campaign as it sees fit, as the college is free, and honor-bound by its mission and goals, to ensure that it respects our country and those who truly served and sacrificed,” said Marci Linson, the school’s director of admissions and vice president of patriotic activities.