Fact Check

LSU's Team Absent for National Anthem Before Playing Iowa?

Journalists asked LSU's coach, Kim Mulkey, about it at the post-game press conference.

Published April 2, 2024

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Image Via Getty Images
Louisiana State University's women's basketball team was not present for the national anthem before the start of the April 1, 2024, game with the University of Iowa.

On April 1, 2024, one of the most-anticipated games of college basketball ever played tipped off in Albany, New York. The star-studded defending championship team at No. 3, Louisiana State University (LSU), played the No. 1 University of Iowa, led by the all-time leading points scorer in NCAA history, Caitlin Clark. The game was for a spot in the Final Four.

The last time the teams played was in the 2023 championship game, where LSU defeated Iowa 102-85. That game shattered the records for the most-watched NCAA women's college basketball game. Given the media storm surrounding the teams and their star players, viewership numbers for the rematch, which have not yet been released, are likely to break some kind of record. too.

This time, it was the Iowa Hawkeyes who came out on top, 94-87, led by Clark's whopping 41 points and 12 assists. But unlike last year, where controversy focused on the trash talk between Clark and LSU's Angel Reese (both players have said that there's no beef, just a lot of competitiveness), the controversy this year happened even before the game started.

And it was over the national anthem. Sources on X (formerly Twitter) noted that LSU's team was not present for the national anthem.

The story was picked up by several conservative outlets, like Fox News and the New York Post. LSU coach Kim Mulkey explained at a news conference after the game that the decision was not intentional, but part of a routine for the team.


"Honestly, I don't even know when the anthem was played," Mulkey said.

This response was not good enough for some critics, including Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry, who called for state lawmakers to pass legislation requiring student athletes be present during the national anthem.

But according to Chessa Bouche, an LSU basketball reporter, the team is never on the floor when the national anthem is played.

"It's not part of their pregame routine. LSU leaves the court at the 12-minute mark," Bouche told Snopes via email. She said something similar in a post on X.

In a different post, Bouche added that LSU Football is not on the field for the national anthem, either. Indeed, teams entirely missing the national anthem is common. Two examples: In the other women's basketball game of the night, Southern California - Connecticut, neither team was present during the national anthem, and neither Iowa nor Michigan's football team was present for the national anthem during the Big Ten championship game this year.

So what's going on here? It's pretty simple: LSU's team was not present during the national anthem because it doesn't fit with the team's normal pre-game routine. 


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Jack Izzo is a Chicago-based journalist and two-time "Jeopardy!" alumnus.