The captain of Pace University's football team has been suspended from the team after a photo was published online appearing to show him donning a Confederate flag shirt and hat while making what appears to be a Nazi salute.
Tyler Owens, a student at the school's Westchester campus, could also face further discipline from the university after the image originally shared on Snapchat with the caption "The Grand Wizard" -- an apparent reference to the title given to the leader of the Ku Klux Klan -- was published in the school's student newspaper, the Pace Chronicle.
The photo was reportedly obtained and shared by black students at the school. It's not clear when the photo was taken.
“As African Americans and Pace University students we are extremely offended and believe something should be done about this,” the group told the student paper in an email.
After the photo surfaced, university president Stephen Friedman sent out a letter to students, faculty, staff and other community members announcing Owens had been suspended from the team and stripped of his captaincy while the school investigates the matter.
"The photograph is highly offensive and contrary to the values of diversity, inclusiveness, and embracing the ethnic and cultural differences among students, faculty and staff that are deeply held at Pace University and its Athletics department," Friedman said in the letter.
Owens and his teammates have declined to comment on the photo, the Pace Chronicle reports, but some fellow students have come to his defense.
"(Owens has) has done so much for me," said Addison Casey, a former Pace football player. "People are taking a joke out of context, it was just a couple of guys messing around, they saw the [clothing], and jokingly put it on."
According to the school's athletics site, Owens is a Salem, New Jersey, native who has played for the Setters for three seasons as a defensive lineman. It's not clear if he is a scholarship athlete with the team. Pace, a NCAA Division II program, competes in the Northeast-10 conference.