- Associated Press - Thursday, March 12, 2015

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Saying they were committed to curing the “disease” of racism, Oklahoma football players called Thursday for the expulsion of fraternity leaders tied to a racist video and vowed to help the mostly white campus end its “culture of exclusivity.”

“Our hope is to shed light on this issue and promote meaningful change at a national level,” the players said in a statement many released nearly simultaneously on their social media accounts. “But before we can change the nation, we make it our mission to change our campus.”

The nine-second video caught members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s University of Oklahoma chapter singing a song that used a derogatory term for black people and referenced lynching. Two students have been expelled and university President David Boren ordered the chapter house to be shut down.

Boren plans to meet with team captains after spring break, but the players haven’t waited to express their displeasure.

They banded together Monday and marched arm-in-arm into the school’s indoor practice facility, wearing all black, with coach Bob Stoops front and center. The team has not practiced all week, instead silently demonstrating at Owen Field during its normal practice time.

The university has about 27,000 students, about 5 percent of whom are black. The players said they want SAE leadership “expelled, suspended or otherwise disciplined severely.”

“Allowing this culture to thrive goes against everything it means to be a Sooner,” said the players, who vowed to raise awareness of racism and show “we are defined by more than the numbers on our jerseys and that we are human beings that desire to get to know our classmates.”

The situation already has hurt the football program, usually a national power. North Mesquite (Texas) High School football star Jean Delance, a top offensive lineman prospect who had verbally committed to Oklahoma, said he would not attend the school because of the video.

Two other verbal commitments from the Class of 2016, both black, will stay. Jon-Michael Terry, a tight end from Victory Christian High in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Adrian Hardy, a quarterback from Dekaney High in Houston, have not changed their plans.

Boren’s strong response played a role in keeping Hardy’s mother, Umeki Davis, from becoming concerned.

“As long as they (those leading the chant) were escorted off, and they have nothing to do with OU, and OU stood up for their kids - I’m OK with that,” Davis, said. “It would have been different if OU wouldn’t have stood up for what was right. What was right to me was when they stood up and those students were removed from the school. I’m fine with that.”

Victory Christian football coach Brent Marley said he discussed the situation with Terry, and nothing changed.

Oklahoma’s former players said the incident was not an overall reflection of the campus.

“I just believe that doesn’t represent the school,” former defensive end Chuka Ndulue said during his Pro Day workout this week. “No matter where you go, it’s just - stuff like that happens. It’s just because we’re in this day and age where social media runs everything where they happened to catch the guys on camera. It doesn’t reflect the student body. That’s not the image of the University of Oklahoma.”

Former Oklahoma offensive lineman Adam Shead said he was glad to see things that normally get swept under the rug out in the open. He said he was encouraged when the team marched on Monday.

“I was proud,” he said. “I was happy to see coach Stoops right there in the front, leading the pack, and all the rest of the coaches right there behind him. I’m proud to have been a part of the program that thinks like that and does things like that, who believes in doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.”

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