Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball coach Tony Bennett supported his team's decision to kneel in photos denouncing injustice and inequality circulated on Twitter by two of his players this week.
"Kneel for Injustice. Kneel for Equality."...aiming to make the world a better place with my brothers 💯 pic.twitter.com/egwigM95fG— Marial Shayok (@supermarial03) September 29, 2016
Kneel for Injustice. Kneel for Equality. ✊🏼 Using our platform to help creat change. TOGETHER! pic.twitter.com/7AEA3mH63B— London Perrantes (@London_Tyus) September 29, 2016
"Our guys realize there are a lot of issues going on in our country," Bennett said in a statement Friday. "I support their desire to promote peace and equality."
The photos are a clear reference to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand during the national anthem in recent months and the wave of protest against racial discrimination among athletes that has followed.
Most recently, Nebraska football players Michael Rose-Ivey, Mohamed Barry and DaiShon Neal kneeled during the anthem before a game at Northwestern. On Sunday, players from both Michigan and Michigan State raised their fists while standing for the national anthem.
Virginia -- a consensus top-10 team and ACC title contender in 2016-17 -- is among the first and most high-profile instances of activism ahead of the upcoming college basketball season.