One Penn benefactor says he’s pulling his donations because of national anthem protests

The decision of most Pennsylvania basketball players to sit while the national anthem was played before games sparked controversy, garnering emotional support and fierce opposition.

The most noteworthy protest comes from James Maguire, one of Philadelphia’s largest and most influential financial benefactors, who sent a letter Thursday to Pennsylvania President Amy Guttman, saying, “I will give you notice that the Maguire Foundation and I will not renew any gifts or Scholarship pledges (current or future) and make no future commitments to Pennsylvania.”

READ MORE: Pennsylvania men’s basketball players sitting on the national anthem explain their protest

Maguire, the father of a University of Pennsylvania graduate, noted that he was a Korean War veteran. Maguire is also St. Joseph’s University’s leading historical benefactor for life, according to the school itself, and his name is on a portion of the campus acquired from the Episcopal Academy. Maguire sent a copy of his letter to Guttmann, and to St. Joseph’s President Mark Reed and athletic director Jill Bodensteiner, and also provided a copy to the Enquirer.

“With a copy of this letter, I ask St. Joseph to cancel your team’s invitation to campus on December 8th for that game,” Maguire wrote in his letter to Guttmann. “Publicly supporting disrespect for our country and our flag is wrong and I don’t want to be part of that disdain.”

“What I can tell you, St. Joseph will definitely host Ben on December 8 as scheduled,” said Liz Kennedy Walsh, vice president of marketing and communications at St. Josephs, declining to comment otherwise. “I can definitely tell you.”

Pennsylvania captain Gilani Williams said after the opening game of the Quakers, where all but three of the players sat during the national anthem and were joined by two assistant coaches, how “we had a lot of internal conversations about how the players felt in their lives and experience in this country as young people.” Black There are still a lot of people in the prison industrial complex The wage gap is still growing every day There are a bunch of things.

“We see racial gaps in almost every aspect of life, whether it’s the health care system, education, or housing. So for us, it’s about highlighting the fact that while the anthem says America stands for freedom, justice and equality for all — the land of the free — we want to We highlight the fact that it doesn’t always live up to that. We just want this conversation to continue, and for everyone to understand that this is how we feel.”

A source in Pennsylvania noted that Quakers did not sit during the anthem before a game in Bucknell on November 14 because that school was honoring local veterans and first responders as part of the Veterans Day celebrations. The Pennsylvania source, who is familiar with the team’s internal discussions, said the protest anthem is not about the military.

A University of Pennsylvania alumnus, Alicia Bloom, a former track and field athlete, wrote her own letter to the sports department at her alma mater, and posted it on Twitter, saying of the basketball players sitting, “It is clear that their decision is neither disrespectful nor despicable. He is thoughtful, willful and paired with action.They have taken the motto of our great university very seriously and embodied it – “Laws without morals are useless” and our nation’s laws are riddled with systemic injustice, inequality and racism.”

In response to a request for comment and any details about the reaction to the protests, a Pennsylvania Department of Sports spokesperson directed a reporter to a university spokesperson, who did not respond.

Bain isn’t the only Big Five men’s basketball team to offer some sort of protest to the anthem. Nearly half of Vilanova’s men’s team had left the field before the anthem, and returned right after. Asked about it on Sunday, Villanova coach Jay Wright said some players did so last season, but few spectators attended matches to see it.

“It was a really positive thing within our team and within our sports department,” Wright said. “We had everyone explain why they stand with the national anthem — because half of them are standing, half of them go there — we had everyone explain individually why they stand with the national anthem, and why they don’t. To stand up. Our goal was to respect that our veterans fought from For our country, and the beauty of our country is that everyone is ready to make their own decisions. This is the beauty of our country.”

Wright added, “Everyone in the changing room said to the men in court, ‘I respect what you’re doing.’ Every person in court said to the men in the locker room, ‘I respect what you’re doing.’ I don’t agree, but I respect that [view] I understand why. So that’s what we’re trying to teach our men, take the time to understand each other’s opinion, and respect it – you don’t have to like it – but you have to understand and respect it.”

Maguire, in a separate note, said he “jumped out of planes, froze my device, saluted my American flag every day, and loved my country in all its imperfections.” Noting that after graduating from St. Joseph, there on the bill of American soldiers, he founded the Philadelphia Insurance Company, and after selling it in 2018 for $4.7 billion, he and his wife contributed $1 billion “to fund education specifically, with more than 2,500 scholarship students tuition today at more than 90 institutions, including Pennsylvania.” His charitable work has gone beyond education. The Maguire Foundation is a major donor, for example, to Project Home, to fight homelessness in Philadelphia.

Maguire asked to find “a different way of being different, of respecting the people who put everything on the line for the sake of our country.”

“It’s time to play the national anthem,” said Eric Zelmer, who just retired as Drexel’s sporting director.

Zelmer, whose father was a West Point graduate and is buried on the grounds there, noted that the World University Games now play a standard hymn during medal ceremonies, and turn away from jingles.

“The national anthem was uniting people,” Zillmer said. “Now it’s getting divisive.”

Even this thought, observable, could be considered divisive.


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