Mississippi leaders react to NCAA’s decision to change Confederate flag policy

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – One day after athletes from the Southeastern Conference spoke out against Mississippi’s state flag, the NCAA issued new guidelines to the Association’s Confederate flag policy.

Under expanded guidance, the NCAA said states will not be allowed to host championship events if the confederate flag is a prominent symbol. Mississippi is the only state with the Confederate battle emblem on its flag.

“I think it’s very difficult news for these programs to hear this and now all of a sudden a political issue turns to a sports issue. I’m expecting every athletic director in the state of Mississippi, once they heard the news from NCAA, they got on the phone real quick and they called their friends down in Jackson and said, ‘Gentlemen and ladies, it’s your move now,'” said Brad Logan, a local sports writer and contributor.

College presidents throughout the state voiced their concerns. House Minority Leader Robert Johnson, a Democrat, said he’s beyond the message of how much the flag hurts African Americans. He said there’s no sensitivity. Instead, he’s making the economic case.

“Athletes who would otherwise come here but won’t now. If we’re getting this kind of negative attention, it’s time for us to do something just as a practical matter. We’re not even talking about the ethical and moral reasons. We need to do it, but as a practical matter, you can’t,” said Johnson.

But not everyone is on board with the outside pressure.

“I don’t think it’s right for outside groups to act as social justice warriors and intervene in, what I’ve seen lately, as a problematic approach of the American left,” said Republican State Senator Chris McDaniel.

McDaniel said Mississippians decided the state flag issue at the ballot box in 2001. He said it could be decided again at the ballot, if the people choose to do so.

“I don’t think pressure from outside groups, which were in-turn being pressured by a radical element that’s attempting to basically change our history. I don’t think that’s a wise approach. I think we deserve better than that,” he stated.

All state colleges and some major corporations have decided not to fly the state flag in recent years.

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