College athletic heads call NCAA policy against state flag ‘bigger than sports and positive change’

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – If the Confederate emblem stays flying over Mississippi on the state flag, that means no chance for any NCAA college in this state to host regionals or other post-season tournaments for any sport. 

Especially in the south, college sports for decades have been embedded into its own culture bringing people together from all backgrounds and open the doors for countless student-athletes. But now the biggest collegiate sports organization is putting pressure on Mississippi to change its state flag. Claiming the confederate emblem goes against their standards. 

Enacted in 2001, the NCAA Confederate Flag Policy is being expanded banning any Mississippi school from hosting the postseason even if they’re the top seed. 

“This issue is just so much bigger than sports,” Millsaps College Athletic Director Aaron Pelch said. “It’s bigger than a host site in the postseason. We’re looking at it from the athletic department as an opportunity for positive change.”

For almost a decade Athletic Director Aaron Pelch has dedicated his career to coaching and mentoring athletes of all ethnicities to greatness. And sees the flag holding that progress back. 

“The NCAA now is just listening to the athletes and the athletes are saying hey we want to change,” Pelch continued. “And we’re part of the NCAA if you want us to continue to represent institutions than you need to listen to us.” 

Over the years, teams like Millsaps baseball have appeared in several regional tournaments and the College World Series in 2013. Delta State also hosted the 2019 South II Regional Tournament. But I wouldn’t be allowed to this year. 

Mississippi College and Delta State released statements in the wake of the policy change agreeing with the NCAA, saying the Confederate-era symbols do not reflect positively on the diverse student-athletes and employees at their institutions. And a flag should demonstrate unity. Meanwhile, Mississippi residents we spoke to expressed mixed reactions. 

“If it offends so many people, I don’t have a strong opinion about it but, black people consider it some kind of an insult I see no reason not to change it,” Paul Yerger of Clinton told us.

“No, it shouldn’t be removed its part of history,” Valeria Ordonez of Clinton argued. “Honestly if it was removed it wouldn’t change anything. The truth is people’s point of view can change but a flag changing is not going to do anything.”

For many Representatives and Senators who have weighed in on this topic, the best option to them is to get the decision made on a ballot by the voters. But that could take some time.

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