By Adam Brown
The NCAA through their Board of Governors stated Friday that no NCAA Championship event can be played in the states where the Confederate flag has a prominent presence, per the expanded Association’s Confederate Flag Policy.
The policy previously barred awarding a championship to states that displayed the Confederate flag. However, if a college or university team earned the right to host a championship game based on its tournament seeding or ranking — considered a nonpredetermined award — the team could host on its college campus or in its home territory.
Mississippi is the only state currently affected by the Association’s policy.
Any university in the state, including Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi would not be able to hold a postseason regional or super-regional in June.
The NCAA Confederate flag policy was enacted in 2001 by the NCAA Executive Committee (now the Board of Governors) due to the flag’s prominence in various states.
“Competing in an NCAA championship is a special experience for college athletes who compete at the highest level and we are grateful for the college athlete voice leading to this decision,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. “We must do all we can to ensure that NCAA actions reflect our commitment to inclusion and support all our student-athletes. There can be no place within college sports where any student-athlete is demeaned or unwelcome.”
All eight University leaders responded to the NCAA Position on the Mississippi State Flag in a joint statement. The state will lose millions in revenue from not being able to have an NCAA event on a college campus.
The joint statement reads:
“Several years ago, our universities recognized that the Mississippi state flag in its current form is divisive and chose to lower the flag on our campuses. Today, we are committed to continuing to do our part to ensure Mississippi is united in its pursuit of a future that is free of racism and discrimination. Such a future must include a new state flag.
In keeping the current state flag, Mississippi will potentially forego the millions of dollars in economic impact that NCAA postseason events bring to our state. This is unfortunate. Our student-athletes and coaches, who devote so much of their time, talent, hard work and dedication to their sports and our universities, will potentially be negatively impacted through no action of their own. This is more than unfortunate.”
Ole Miss Athletics Director Keith Carter tweeted in support of the statement that the state needs to unite and not be divided.
“I wholeheartedly support this statement,” Carter said. “Mississippi needs a state flag that represents qualities about our state that unite us, not those that still divide us.”
On Thursday, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement on Twitter stating that no SEC Championship would be held in the Magnolia State until the flag is changed.
“It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi,” Sankey said. “Our students deserve an opportunity to learn and compete in environments that are inclusive and welcoming to all.
“In the event, there is no change, there will be consideration of precluding Southeastern Conference championship events from being conducted in the State of Mississippi until the state flag is changed,” Sankey.