JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The NCAA Board of Governors has expanded the Association’s Confederate flag policy to prevent any NCAA championship events from being played in states where the symbol has a prominent presence. The announcement comes after athletes asked the NCAA to ban college baseball regionals in Mississippi until lawmakers change the state flag.
The policy previously barred the awarding of sites determined in advance of a championship in 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.
“There is no place in college athletics or the world for symbols or acts of discrimination and oppression,” said Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of the Ohio State University. “We must continually evaluate ways to protect and enhance the championship experience for college athletes. Expanding the Confederate flag policy to all championships is an important step by the NCAA to further provide a quality experience for all participants and fans.”
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.”
The Executive Committee reviewed the policy in 2014, per a request by the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee. The policy remained unchanged, which allowed schools competing in sports such as baseball, softball, lacrosse and later women’s basketball the opportunity to host preliminary non-determined championship events in their home state, which included Mississippi. That will no longer be allowed under the expanded flag policy.
Listed below are the responses from colleges and universities in Mississippi:
Mississippi’s public universities respect the NCAA’s position as it relates to the State of Mississippi’s flag.
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.
We are looking forward to a time when our state flag represents the full and rich diversity of Mississippi, a diversity that is reflected in our student-athletes, our student bodies, and the friends and fans of our athletics teams. We look forward to a time when Mississippi’s state flag unites Mississippians, rather than divides us.Mississippi Public Universities
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