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Southern Miss takes disciplinary action against students for derogatory chant

By Gustavo Valdes, CNN
updated 1:28 PM EDT, Tue March 20, 2012
Southern Miss pep band members yelled the chant at Angel Rodriguez, right, during a game in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Southern Miss pep band members yelled the chant at Angel Rodriguez, right, during a game in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Five pep band members have been removed from the band
  • Their scholarships have been revoked
  • They will be required to complete a cultural sensitivity course
  • Band members chanted "where's your green card" during a basketball game

Lea este artículo en español/Read this article in Spanish

(CNN) -- Five members of the University of Southern Mississippi pep band have had their scholarships revoked and have been removed from the band after they yelled a derogatory chant at a Puerto Rican player during an NCAA basketball tournament game last week.

The school announced the disciplinary action in a statement Tuesday, saying the five "have been forthcoming, cooperative, contrite and sincerely remorseful."

"They acted rashly and inappropriately, and now see the gravity of their words and actions," Vice President for Student Affairs Joe Paul said. "This is a teachable moment, not only for these students but for our entire student body and those who work with them."

The students will also be required to complete a two-hour training course on cultural sensitivity, the school said. The school has not identified the students.

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

As Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez shot free throws, several people could clearly be heard chanting, "where's your green card."

The university's president apologized to Rodriguez, saying the chant wasn't representative of the university.

Southern Miss apologizes for band's derogatory chant

Rodriguez said Friday, "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."

"Their athletic director and personnel from their school came to apologize, and I accepted it," he said.

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

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.

The eighth-seeded Kansas State Wildcats beat the ninth-seeded Southern Miss Golden Eagles 70-64, knocking them out of the tournament. Kansas State advanced to the next round, but lost to Syracuse.

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