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Pep Band Members Punished for 'Green Card' Chant

March 21, 2012

Five University of Southern Mississippi students have been stripped of their pep band scholarships, kicked out of the band and ordered into a cultural sensitivity class for chanting "Where's your green card?" at an opposing basketball player from Puerto Rico. Caught on camera during the second round of the National College Athletic Association men's basketball tournament last week, the band members implied that Kansas State University freshman Angel Rodriguez was in the United States illegally. Rodriguez was born in San Juan, making him an American citizen.

University officials announced the punishment in a news release Tuesday. “The students have been forthcoming, cooperative, contrite and sincerely remorseful," said Joe Paul, Southern Mississippi's vice president for student affairs. "They acted rashly and inappropriately, and now see the gravity of their words and actions. This is a teachable moment, not only for these students but for our entire student body and those who work with them.”

The university issued a swift apology last week, and its athletic director met with Rodriguez in K-State's team hotel. Rodriguez, 19, accepted the apology.

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Mitch Smith

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