Ohio State senior forward Jae’Sean Tate (left), junior guard Matt Lehmann (center) and freshman forward Kyle Young (right) take to the court wearing “Equality” T-shirts for pregame warmups. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Members of the Ohio State men’s basketball team made a statement Saturday night.

It was not what the Buckeyes did on the court against Iowa in their 82-64 win, but rather with the T-shirts they wore during pregame warmups.

Ohio State players came out before the game wearing black shirts with white lettering that all read “Equality.” The players warmed up shortly in the shirts before all standing side-by-side during the playing of the National Anthem while still wearing the shirts.

“Coach Chris Holtmann was talking before the game about how the game of basketball gives you one of the greatest opportunities to develop deep friendships with people of all races,” sophomore center Micah Potter said. “And in this country, everyone’s equal no matter what race. No matter what color your skin is or anything. So it’s just a great way to represent what this country represents and how we feel about stuff.”

Holtmann said after the game he and Scoonie Penn, Ohio State men’s basketball director of player development, had talked about the shirts as a way of acknowledging Black History Month and the bond that the players develop all playing alongside one another.

The idea was brought up when the Duke men’s basketball team wore similar T-shirts before an exhibition game against Northwest Missouri State on Oct. 27. The Ohio State women’s basketball team wore the same shirts on Jan. 31 in its game against Penn State. 

“One of the things we talked about as a team here is it’s one of the really, really powerful things with team sports is that you have a chance to have lifelong friendships with people from all different backgrounds,” Holtmann said. “Some of my closest friends and coaching are guys that I went to battle with from all different backgrounds and all different races.”