HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WJTV) — On June 19, the NCAA made a decision that had massive ramifications for the state of Mississippi.
The governing body of collegiate sports declared that no NCAA championship events can take place in Mississippi until the state flag is changed.
The flag displays the confederate battle symbol, and with the war on racism raging harder than ever, the ban was placed on all colleges and universities in the state.
One of those schools is Southern Miss, who hasn’t displayed the flag on campus since 2015. Athletic Director Jeremy McClain said above all else, he want’s to support those who have felt oppressed by this flag. But, he also feels for the athlete’s who are affected by this as well.
“You know, I’m disappointed,” said McClain. “Obviously any time Conference USA and the NCAA the recent statements that came out. I’m disappointed for our student athletes who could possibly be negatively affected, you know, by because of something they have no control over.”
Southern Miss is slated to host the Conference USA baseball tournament in 2022, an event that would be an economic boost for the city of Hattiesburg and the university.
That event wont happen under the current guidelines laid out by the NCAA, but McClain said that just isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things.
“The issue is much bigger than that and it needs to be addressed,” McClain said. “And so we’re obviously very supportive of the change [to the flag] and hopeful that, you know, the leaders and the state of Mississippi can get to that point and do something that should have been done many years ago.”
As for the athletes themselves, McClain said he hasn’t had anyone come to him about any issues, but says he’ll support them if they do. He also had some thoughts on comments Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill made last week condemning the flag.
“It took a lot of guts to do that. You know, I think it needs to be said, he’s a native Mississippian. And he, probably just like me, loves the state of Mississippi. And we want everyone to appreciate how great this state can be. So I applaud him stepping up and sharing that. This young man has a bright future and I’m sure a lot of thought went into his decision to do that. From our standpoint…I haven’t had that conversation with any of our athletes yet. I have seen them supporting what was said on social media which I appreciate.”
For now, Southern Miss will wait with the rest of the schools for this to be resolved in the state legislature or the voting booth.