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Nevada vows to 'bring prominent recognition celebrating Colin Kaepernick'

Colin Kaepernick runs the ball against Boston College in the 2010 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Less than a week after Nevada football player Blake Baughman started an online petition to bring Colin Kaepernick's image back to university, the school announced a series of actions it will take to address the impact of racism on campus, including more prominent display of Kaepernick.

Baughman's petition, which was the brainchild of himself and Giovanni Miranda and released with approval from the team, has drawn 7,459 signatures in less than a week. UNR included seven initiatives in a news release Wednesday night, including one that included Kaepernick. It read:

"Bring thoughtful and prominent recognition celebrating Colin Kaepernick and those Black social justice pioneers who came before him on our campus."

Kaepernick's image is well represented in Nevada's athletic facilities, including a large picture of him in the lobby of Cashell Fieldhouse, the Wolf Pack's football facility, titled, "A Nevada Football Player." The display explains the qualities the program wants in its athletes. A large picture of Kaepernick resides in Nevada's strength center along with other Wolf Pack alums who reached the NFL. A picture of Kaepernick also is included in the coaches' hallway as part of the program's "Best of the Best" section. Kaepernick is included in two pictures, one individually and one with the 2010 team, in the football trophy case at Legacy Hall. Kaepernick is included in a mural of alums inside the Basin Street Club at Mackay Stadium. There also is a picture of him in the Nevada quarterback meeting room.

His image on the rest of UNR's campus, and the community at large, is less ubiquitous given the impact he had during his time with the Wolf Pack and the fact he is the school's most famous alum.

The largest controversy surrounding Kaepernick's likeness in Reno came in fall 2016 when the former Wolf Pack quarterback began his protest of police brutality against minorities by kneeling during the national anthem of NFL games. It was then when a prominent Wolf Pack memorabilia case at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport that is heavily trafficked removed items that included Kaepernick. Officials at the time cited the need to clean the case. Kaepernick was first noticed not standing for the anthem Aug. 26, 2016, and the Kaepernick items were cleared out by Aug. 30, 2016.

The airport received more than 100 angry messages from locals and travelers who wanted Kaepernick's memorabilia permanently removed. After more than a year with the three cases dedicated to Kaepernick being empty, the display was filled with Kaepernick getting one of the cases. One case was dedicated to Ramon Sessions, who had just donated $1 million toward a basketball practice facility. Kaepernick remains in one of the cases. The display's contents are owned and managed by the university.

Shortly after Kaepernick's graduation, the university started a "Kap Was Here" marketing campaign that included hanging banners of Kaepernick on light posts around campus. That campaign was slotted for a specific time period, according to university officials, before another campaign begun. Those banners are no longer on campus as the university has annual campaigns.

The other immediate actions planned by the university include:

* A public review of our policing standards, training and protocols to ensure community safety, equity and compliance with justice values.

* A public review of the African Diaspora Program, which replaced the Black Cooperative Program, to ensure Black student needs are being met.

* Explore test score alternatives for use in first year math and English course placement and institutional scholarship criteria.

* Support the establishment of an undergraduate and graduate trustee position.

* Pursue the establishment of a living learning community in the residence halls focused on Black culture.

* Continue and expand cultural competency education across campus.

"This University is proud of the courageous voices these students have brought to an injustice that has gone on for far too long," the school said in its statement. "It is important to confront our past and seek to build a more equitable and just community for Black students."

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