Gyree Durante Cut by Albright College After Kneeling During National Anthem

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2017

The Pittsburgh Steelers side of the field is nearly empty during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Steelers and Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Chicago. The Pittsburgh Steelers players did not come out to the field during the anthem. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press

Albright College football player Gyree Durante was dismissed from the Division III program for kneeling during the national anthem before Saturday's game against Delaware Valley University.

On Wednesday, Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com passed along a statement from a school spokesperson, who said the Lions' leadership council voted to stand during the national anthem and Durante opted to kneel by himself, leading to his exit from the team.

"The football team made a team-wide decision to both kneel during the coin toss and stand during the national anthem," the statement read. "This action, which was supported by the coaching staff, was created as an expression of team unity and out of the mutual respect team members have for one another and the value they place on their differences. It was established as a way to find common ground in a world with many differing views."

Durante served as a backup quarterback at the Reading, Pennsylvania school. He appeared in two of the team's six games so far this season, completing three of his eight pass attempts for 35 yards and a touchdown.

The sophomore told David Chang and Aaron Baskerville of NBC Philadelphia he was protesting against "social injustices and racism" in the United States.

"At some point in life, there's going to be a time when you've got to take a stand," Durante said. "For me it just happened to be on Saturday afternoon."

He added: "I was just taught you fight for what you believe in and you don't bow to anyone. I believe heavily in this. So I decided to fight for it."

His dismissal comes while the NFL is embroiled in a polarizing debate about whether players should be able to protest during the national anthem. The issue generated mainstream attention after United States President Donald Trump said owners should fire players who decide to kneel.

Durante told NBC Philadelphia he's considering a transfer.

Meanwhile, Albright College has a bye this week before returning to action Oct. 21 with a road game against Stevenson University.