Two of four Lansing Catholic football players who knelt during the national anthem at games this fall and sought reforms to promote diversity and inclusion at the school have decided to leave it.
Michael Lynn III and Matthew Abdullah, both seniors, transferred to Lansing Sexton and Holt high schools, respectively.
Lynn, Lansing Catholic's starting quarterback, started classes at Sexton last week; Abdullah intends to start classes at Holt next week. He cleaned out his locker at Lansing Catholic on Friday.
Watch as Lansing Catholic quarterback Michael Lynn III reflects on decision to take a knee for the anthem on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. (Brian Calloway / LSJ Brian Calloway/Lansing State Journal)
Erica Lynn, Lynn's mother, said her son's decision to transfer to Sexton was based on a variety of factors. One issue, Erica Lynn said, was the school's treatment of him before and after he decided to kneel at games.
"It was a way to salvage his last year in what should have been a wonderful experience," Erica Lynn said of Michael's transfer to Sexton.
Michael Lynn started his high school football career at Sexton and transferred to Lansing Catholic midway through his sophomore year.
Lynn, Abdullah and football teammates Kabbash Richards and Roje Williams said they knelt at games this season as a form of peaceful protest against racism.
Their actions didn't appear to sit well with school officials and Jim Ahern, the football coach. Messages left Friday night with Tom Maloney, the school's president, and Ahern weren't returned.
All four players who knelt during the anthem at games either didn't start those games or appeared to have their playing time reduced.
On Oct. 6, the four players knelt during the anthem before their homecoming game against Ionia. They began that game on the bench, a punishment school officials made them aware of before kickoff.
Despite the anthem controversy and player discipline, Lansing Catholic had a successful season with an 8-3 record and a berth in the state playoffs. Two weeks ago, the Cougars fell 35-0 to Portland in the Division 5 district title game.
Marcie Abdullah, Matthew Abdullah's mother, said her son's decision to leave Lansing Catholic had to do with how it handles student-athletes and how it addresses concerns raised by minority students.
Marcie Abdullah has a daughter, a sophomore, who will stay at the school. The mother is hopeful school officials will make a better effort to create an environment that promotes "multicultural sensitivity and diversity awareness."
"The bottom line was that he was miserable," Marcie Abdullah said of her son's Lansing Catholic experience. "And I couldn't see him like that anymore."
Marcie Abdullah is a teacher at Holt High School. Her son, expected to start at Holt next week, has been accepted to college at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio.
Mount Union has recruited Matthew Abdullah to play football and compete on the track team. He also is considering Morehouse College in Atlanta, Marcie Abdullah said.
Michael Lynn III, a 6-foot, 205-pound quarterback, has drawn interest from several in-state Division II schools to play football and already has qualified academically for at least one school, Erica Lynn said.
Lynn tallied 1,637 yards and 13 touchdown passes in 10 games. He also ran for 663 yards and added 12 scores.
The parents of Lynn and Abdullah said Friday their children weren't on scholarship at Lansing Catholic so they had to pay tuition. Tuition at the school runs about $9,000 annually, Erica Lynn said.
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