Flash the “Horns Down” hand gesture at your own risk.
Zac Collier told ESPN won’t be singing the national anthem before a Men’s College World Series game next week after he made the gesture after singing the anthem before a Women’s College World Series game last week.
Collier, a Texas A&M grad, sung the anthem before Texas played Oklahoma State in a WCWS semifinal. Not long after that performance, Collier said he got an email from someone at the men’s event in Omaha that said his invitation was revoked for “unsportsmanlike behavior.” He then posted a screenshot of the alleged email to social media.
“I’m a neutral party and showing my support or lack of support for a certain team after the anthem, I can see how somebody could be upset with that,” Collier said. “But the reason I posted wasn’t because I was upset that they said, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t have done that.’ It was because they called the Horns Down an offensive gesture. They said I mocked the other team. Those words specifically, are why I posted about it. Saying that I’m making a mockery of a participating team because I put a Horns Down is ridiculous.”
The NCAA said in a statement that Collier “taunted” Texas with the gesture.
“Following his national anthem performance during the Women’s College World Series — during which the performer inappropriately supported one participating team, taunted the other team, and disrupted participating student-athletes and coaches by attempting to interact with them — he was asked not to perform during the Men’s College World Series.”
We can consider Collier’s revoked invitation a more severe version of a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The Big 12 said in the summer of 2021 that any football player who flashes the anti-Texas sign would likely receive a 15-yard penalty for taunting if the gesture was directed towards a Texas player. Texas opponents have loved flashing the gesture in recent years, especially as the Longhorns have struggled.
With Texas as one of the eight teams in the men’s College World Series this season, a more equivalent penalty could have been assigning Collier to a game that didn’t involve the Longhorns. But the NCAA and the men’s CWS clearly didn’t want to risk him doing it again even if he was told to refrain from the gesture.