Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg released a statement via Twitter on Saturday evening calling the death of George Floyd "senseless" and "avoidable," and vowed to do whatever he can to help.
"As the head coach of incredible young black men, I know I have a job to do to help them grow on and off the court," Hoiberg wrote. "I have told them that we are all back together in the coming days, I will have a team meeting that will allow us to come together to find ways to make positive change. We all have a role in this and for me, I plan on doing whatever I possibly can to protect and support my players through these tragic times."
Hoiberg lived and worked in Minneapolis for seven years, playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2003 to 2005 then working in the organization's front office until 2010. He said the city holds a special place in his heart, and to see what's happened there in recent days is "heartbreaking."
This week, a white Minneapolis police officer was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after he was videoed kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a black man, for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. Floyd became unresponsive, and was pronounced dead at a hospital. Protests, some violent, have erupted across the country, including in Omaha.
"It's unfortunate that it takes tragic and avoidable events to remind us that hate never wins," Hoiberg said. "We can all hope for positive outcomes, but regardless, lives have been senselessly lost and forever changed."
The Nebraska men's basketball team has been outspoken about racial injustice before. After a white supremacist was found to be living on campus, and claiming he wanted to "be violent," the basketball team began the Hate Will Never Win campaign. Under that campaign, a rally of more than 1,500 formed to protest racial injustice. Athletes on campus continue to wear the black T-shirts made for the rally.
"I pray for George Floyd, his family and all the innocent lives that have been taken away by senseless acts," Hoiberg's statement concluded. "I pray that we can all come together and be better from this."