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Southern Miss apologizes for band's derogatory chant at NCAA tournament

By Lateef Mungin, CNN
updated 3:02 PM EDT, Fri March 16, 2012
Angel Rodriguez, right, was subjected to a derogatory chant by members of the Southern Miss band during the game Thursday.
Angel Rodriguez, right, was subjected to a derogatory chant by members of the Southern Miss band during the game Thursday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The incident was captured by television cameras
  • "We deeply regret the remarks made by a few students," school president says
  • Kansas State beat Southern Miss 70-64

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(CNN) -- A university president apologized after members of the school's band yelled "where's your green card" at a Latino player during a NCAA basketball tournament game Thursday.

TV cameras captured the incident during the University of Southern Mississippi-Kansas State University game at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

As Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez shot free throws, several people could clearly be heard with the green card chant.

Rodriguez did not change his expression during the chants and helped push Kansas State to victory by scoring 13 points.

"I heard it. I don't pay attention to that nonsense, especially because Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, so we don't need no type of papers," Rodriguez said Friday. "Their athletic director and personnel from their school came to apologize, and I accepted it."

Rodriguez said he realized that there are "ignorant people, and I know that is not how they want to represent their university."

"I've moved on already," he said. "I have a game to focus on."

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said the University of Southern Mississippi "responded in a timely and appropriate fashion to address the matter."

"Any determination of championship misconduct is the purview of the men's basketball committee and will be addressed following the tournament," she said.

Southern Miss President Martha Saunders issued an apology.

"We deeply regret the remarks made by a few students at today's game," Saunders said in a statement on the school's website. "The words of these individuals do not represent the sentiments of our pep band, athletic department or university. We apologize to Mr. Rodriguez and will take quick and appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved in this isolated incident."

The eighth-seeded Kansas State Wildcats beat the ninth-seeded Southern Miss Golden Eagles 70-64, knocking them out of the tournament.

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