The NCAA on Friday expanded its policy banning states with prominent Confederate symbols from hosting its championship events, one day after the Southeastern Conference made a similar declaration aimed at the Mississippi state flag.
The current NCAA ban, in place since 2001, prevents states from hosting what the NCAA calls predetermined championship sites, such as for men’s basketball tournament games. Mississippi is the only state currently affected by the policy.
The expanded policy means that even when sites of NCAA events are determined by performance, as they are in sports such as baseball, women’s basketball and lacrosse, Mississippi schools will not be permitted to host. Mississippi’s two Southeastern Conference schools, the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State, regularly host NCAA baseball regional and super regional games.
On Thursday, the SEC announced it would no longer hold conference-sponsored championship events in Mississippi until the state flag is changed. The move came with the calls for change from administrators from both Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum released a statement after SEC’s comments.
“Clearly, the current national climate is such that this debate may produce unintended consequences for our student athletes here at Mississippi State University and those at the University of Mississippi,” Keenum said. “In addition, there may be similar unintended consequences for academic pursuits at our all our state’s public universities and negative economic impacts on the state’s communities as well.”
Mississippi universities has been shedding Old South symbols for several years. In 1997 the waving of Confederate flags at sporting events was banned, and Colonel Reb was nixed as the on-field mascot by Ole Miss in 2003. The state flag no longer flies at any exterior location on Mississippi State’s campus since 2016.
Mississippi has the last state flag that includes the battle emblem: a red field topped by a blue X with 13 white stars. White supremacists put the symbol on the flag in 1894 during the backlash to black political power that developed during Reconstruction.
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