(Reuters) - Southern Mississippi University revoked the pep band scholarships of five students on Tuesday after they admitted to shouting "Where is your green card?" to an Hispanic basketball player during an NCAA tournament game last week.
The students shouted the taunt to Angel Rodriguez, a freshman point guard for Kansas State University who was born in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, during the first round game between the two schools on March 15.
Kansas State won the game 70 to 64, with Rodriguez scoring 13 points. The university later said the students had their scholarships revoked, have been removed from the band, and will be required to complete a two-hour cultural sensitivity training course this week.
"The students have been forthcoming, cooperative, contrite and sincerely remorseful. They acted rashly and inappropriately, and now see the gravity of their words and actions," Vice President for Student Affairs Joe Paul said on the university's website.
"This is a teachable moment, not only for these students but for our entire student body and those who work with them," he added.
Rodriguez does not need a green card because he is a U.S. citizen by birth. Citizenship is automatically granted by an act of Congress because Puerto Rico, where he was born, is a U.S. territory.
Reporting By Greg McCune; Editing by Cynthia Johnston