Marian student cut from baseball team over long hair

Zack Napier
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A controversy over a haircut is forcing a local college baseball player off the field.

Zack Napier says he's in an impossible position, being asked by Marian University to make a choice between playing the sport he loves and his family's cultural traditions.

"I love baseball more than probably anything in the world," said Napier, 20, who has played the sport since he was a little boy.

For the past two years, though, Napier's field of dreams has been playing baseball on the diamond at Marian University.

"I worked my whole life to play college baseball," said Napier.

Napier's dream was cut short recently for something he refuses to cut. He showed Eyewitness News what was carefully hidden underneath his Marian University baseball cap.

"It goes to, like, the bottom of my back," he said, taking off his cap to reveal to long braids that reached down his back. "I've never had a haircut my entire life."

Now, according to Napier, Marian University's new head baseball coach has demanded Napier cut his hair if he wants to play ball for the school.

"He told me until my hair was gone that I was no longer to come back on the field," Napier said.

Napier said it's not that simple, though.

"My hair's a big deal to me and my family," he said.

The reason, according to Napier, he's part Native American - Cherokee to be exact - on his father's side.

"It's devastating to not just me, but my family, everybody," said Napier of being cut from the team.

Marian University issued a statement that said:

"Marian University's new baseball coach has enacted a policy addressing the appearance of the student-athletes on his team, which is consistent with policies enforced by other collegiate and professional athletic programs. The policy applies to all members of the team regardless of their race, religion, or personal beliefs."

"In the Bible it says your hair is your glory and I feel like they're making me cut off my hair and they're a Catholic institution," said Napier.

He said he's not asking to show off his long locks while playing ball.

"My hair's always been up.@I never wear my hair down," he explained.

Napier said he's just asking that he and future players not have to choose between a sport he's loved since childhood and the traditions of his family's heritage.

"It's impossible for me to choose," he said.