Report: Memphis Booster Pledges to Match Donations Lost Due to BLM Helmet Decal

Blake SchusterAnalyst IJuly 4, 2020

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 28: Kedarian Jones #13 of the Memphis Tigers makes a catch during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Arlington, Texas (Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images)
Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

Memphis Tigers head coach Ryan Silverfield announced earlier this week that the football team would wear "Black Lives Matters" decals on their helmets this season, and one of the program's backers reportedly said he'd help negate any financial impact the decision might create.    

On Friday, The Athletic's John Martin reported a booster said he would match and then double any donations the school may lose as a result of the decals. 

It's unclear if the school has already lost any financial commitments because of the move.

Speaking to Martin shortly after he announced the team would wear the stickers all season, Silverfield said it was his responsibility to stand with his players:

“People are entitled to their beliefs, their rights, their thoughts, their feelings. My job here is to serve our student-athletes. It's something we discussed with the university and the players and we felt it's the right thing to do at this time. People are gonna be unhappy. They weren't happy when I sent previous tweets. They weren't happy with some of the recruits I've taken. They weren't happy with the unity march. They weren't happy with my calls during the Cotton Bowl. We're always gonna be criticized for decisions. But we've got to be there for the players, continue to grow, and make steps in the right direction.”

The coach added he felt it was necessary to continue to support social justice reform, saying it "can't just be a one-time thing where I send out a tweet or have one unity march. It's got to be ongoing."

Silverfield, 39, has been with Memphis since 2016, when he joined the Tigers as an assistant coach. He was elevated to assistant head coach in 2019 and took over the program last December following the departure of Mike Norvell to Florida State. 

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University of Memphis president Dr. M. David Rudd, a veteran of the Gulf War, issued a statement of support Thursday.

"The exercise of free speech is essential to a representative republic," Rudd wrote in part. "I support our athletic department, our head coach and our football team. I am proud of our young men for demonstrating leadership, encouraging civility and for their genuine efforts to unite us so our University of Memphis family can become stronger together."