MADISON, Wis. - The head coach of the Badgers women's basketball team is defending his players after a U.S. senator criticized one on Twitter for not standing during the playing of the national anthem.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley tweeted that Iowa constituents asked him why junior Marsha Howard did not stand for the playing of the national anthem before Wisconsin's game at Iowa.
He then encouraged people to express their outrage to the university.
Head coach Jonathan Tsipis confirmed that Howard has been staying in the tunnel at Badger home games to protest gun violence -- not the national anthem -- since the beginning of the season.
He said she did not want any attention focused on her, which is why she hasn't been on the floor at the Kohl Center. At Iowa, that wasn't an option, because the Badgers bench wasn't near a hallway or an exit, so she chose not to stand.
Tsipis said that Howard is from inner-city Chicago and feels strongly against gun violence. He added that he is proud of her and his players and stands by them.
"I'm proud of Marsha to be able to express her opinion, and we'll continue to support our players," Tsipis said.
In the fall, Badgers head football coach Paul Chryst expressed similar thoughts. In college football games, however, the national anthem is played before teams are on the field.