The Garden City Community College player involved in the post-national anthem confrontation prior to Wednesday’s men’s basketball game at Conestoga Arena is no longer enrolled at GCCC.
Rasool Samir, who was practicing shooting during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner and was immediately confronted by a college booster, flew out of Garden City early Friday morning and was back home in Philadelphia by Friday afternoon.
Why he is there, though, is a point of contention between the college and Samir.
On Friday, GCCC Athletic Director John Green said that Samir and head men’s basketball coach Brady Trenkle met late Thursday night to discuss the controversy. During the meeting, according to Green, Samir, who was already red-shirting this season, expressed his interest to be released from his scholarship with the school and return home.
Green said Trenkle and the college agreed to allow his release.
However, Samir refuted that claim Friday when reached by The Telegram by phone.
“I did not leave on my own,” he said, prior to hanging up unexpectedly.
Then, through text message, Samir said, “They told me I had to leave.”
When asked specifically who told him he had to leave, he said, “Coach Trenkle.”
He said he met with Trenkle Thursday night, but when asked to describe exactly what took place during the meeting, Samir stopped responding and did not return phone calls or text messages.
The college stands by its assertion that Samir left of his own accord.
“I have verbal confirmation from my coach (Trenkle), as well as items I have seen in written and electronic format that tell me he wanted to go," Green said late Friday night. "And then the fact that he took a plane ticket and got on the plane tells me he wanted to go.”
Green said he saw a text message and a hand-written note from Samir that said he wanted to leave GCCC and return home. However, Green did not have access to the note or text message Friday night and could not provide them to The Telegram.
Samir, who is black and Muslim, said he wasn't protesting, as many athletes across the country have done by kneeling or performing other actions during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality. Citing his faith, he said standing for the anthem has never been something he's done, and he did not expect a negative reaction.
Samir previously had apologized for shooting around during the anthem, saying he did not “mean any disrespect at all to the fans or the flag at last night’s game. I am truly sorry to anyone that felt disrespected, and I am also sorry to the school. I apologize for what happened.”
However, Samir questioned how the booster, Broncbuster Athletic Association member Jim Howard, confronted him. Howard reached to grab Samir several times, and the two had to be separated by a campus police officer. Samir was escorted off the court, and Howard was allowed to return to his seat, where he remained for the duration of the game.
In a prepared statement, the college said the GCCC police department is reviewing the incident. No further details about the review were shared.
The college does not have a policy covering fan interaction with players, GCCC spokesperson Kristi Tempel said.
A statement from the college released Friday states, “Garden City Community College Administration takes seriously the honor of our National Anthem and the safety of all students and spectators.
“Garden City Community College has and will continue to provide our public venues as a safe place for community [sic] to gather and enjoy watching the talents of our student athletes.”
Green added that the college will have more personnel at future sporting events to maintain a safe environment for spectators and players.
He continued, “I believe we have little to no problems here … We want to continue to develop a great home court atmosphere. I want a loud, rowdy crowd, but I don’t want anything personal or derogatory. We want our fans to maintain their place in the stands.”
Howard said on Wednesday that he hoped “nobody ever donates another dime to this college” if Samir remained with the school.
However, Green denied that the statement played a part in Samir’s leaving GCCC, again reiterating that Samir left of his own accord.
“People are entitled to their opinion,” Green said in response to Howard’s statement in The Telegram. “I hope people will sort through things, and I would hope that we would as a community, and as a college, we would hang our hat on what the majority of our kids are doing and not the minority. I don’t want one single thing to cover up the other positive things our kids are doing.”
Contact J. Levi Burnfin at firstname.lastname@example.org.