Decision on cross challenged by ASU football player - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Decision on cross challenged by ASU football player

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - An Arkansas State University football player said the school violated his free speech after the team altered a cross decal on the back of his helmet.

The player said he feels the university censored the helmet sticker, which was shaped like a cross to honor two team members who recently passed away. It is now a bar with the initials of former player Markel Owens and former equipment manager Barry Weyer, Jr.

ASU has until Wednesday to reinstate the stickers and publicly acknowledge that players have the right to express themselves or face more legal action. Jeremy Dys with Liberty Institute represents that player and said they will reach a resolution.

"I think we've got good people working on this down there in Little Rock and in Jonesboro and I think this is gong to be resolved," Dys said. 

According to a letter from the Liberty Institute, the player felt the university tried to censor him. The group representing the player said he wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by the university.

"It's an opportunity right now for the school to be able to do the good think here and allow those players to honor their teammates," Dys told Region 8 News. 

The cross-shaped decal was modified nearly a week ago following a complaint. The Freedom From Religion Foundation told Region 8 News the cross was an inappropriate way to honor Owens and Weyer, stating it too closely related to Christianity.

On Monday, the Liberty Institute asked ASU to reverse the earlier decision to alter the decal.

The university released this statement: "We have forwarded the letter to the Arkansas Attorney General's office, which now represents the university in this matter. Any further comment or action related to this issue will be handled by the Attorney General's office."

The Liberty Institute said if the university doesn't respond by Wednesday, they may move forward against the university in court.

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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