Kent State brings fans onto court for anthem in show of racial unity

Kent State players and fans stand in unity during national anthem (1:00)

The Kent State basketball team brings fans from the stands onto the court to stand with the team during the national anthem as a sign of unity. (1:00)

Each member of the Kent State men's basketball team, in a display of unity, went into the crowd prior to the national anthem before Wednesday night's 93-63 home opener win against Mississippi Valley State and invited a fan of a different race to join him courtside.

"It was a special moment," senior guard Deon Edwin said after the game. "We all come together as one. It wasn't about color of skin. If we can do that at a small school, everyone can do it."

Edwin said the plan is to do the same for every home game this year. He's hoping it will catch on with other schools, and maybe even pro teams.

"I really do," he said. "Everyone watches college sports. If people see it happen, maybe they'll do it. Then maybe the pros will do it also. It's something we can all do together."

Eugene Canal, a spokesman for the school, said fans seemed to appreciate the gesture.

"It went very well. It came off very organic," Canal said. "All the players went into the stands and picked people from the crowd. Everyone came down on the court and was arm-to-shoulder. Fans seemed to really appreciate it.

"It was cool because I don't think anyone in the crowd knew what was going on. None of the fans knew about it beforehand."

Kent State coach Rob Senderoff told ESPN before the game that the idea was initially brought to him by Edwin -- who grew up in the Virgin Islands. The seniors agreed, and then Senderoff ran it by the entire team last week.

"This was not my idea," Senderoff said. "This was something they came up with and brought to me. My first reaction was, 'What a statement for them to make.' For a bunch of 18- to 22-year-olds to come up with this is incredibly mature.

"They were vocal to me that they didn't want to protest," Senderoff added. "They wanted to make it clear that this was a statement, and not a protest -- something that hopefully can help bring about change."