NCAA: No championship events in Mississippi unless flag is changed

The NCAA has issued a strong message to the state of Mississippi regarding its controversial state flag.

The NCAA has taken SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey’s comments on the Mississippi flag a step further by expanding a policy that prevents postseason events from being held in the state unless a change is made.

The NCAA’s ‘Confederate flag policy’ has prevented any predetermined postseason events (bowl games, tournaments, etc.) from being held in the state since 2001. The organization announced Friday morning that the policy now includes ANY postseason events, even ones that are earned. This means that baseball regionals, which have become a staple in Starkville, Oxford and Hattiesburg in years past, NCAA Women’s Tournament games and more will be withheld from the state barring a change to the flag.

“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.”

In the NCAA’s announcement, they stated that Mississippi is the only state affected by the Association’s decision to expand its policy.

Thursday, Sankey stated that the conference would consider preventing any SEC championship events from being held in the state unless the flag, which continues to carry the Confederate battle emblem, is changed.

“It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi. Our students deserve an opportunity to learn and compete in environments that are inclusive and welcome to all. In the event there is no change, there will be consideration of precluding Southeastern Conference championship events from being conducted in the State of Mississippi until the state flag is changed,” Sankey’s statement read.

Both Ole Miss and Mississippi State each issued statements in support of a change to the controversial symbol on Thursday.

Neither Ole Miss nor Mississippi State flies the state flag, along with all other public universities in the state. While a group of lawmakers have introduced a resolution seeking to pave the way for a change, the belief is that it won’t make it through the convoluted legislative process.

Governor Tate Reeves has held firm on his position that the flag should only be changed by a vote of the people, not by lawmakers.

“My position has not changed. I spent much of 2019 telling the people of this state what I believe, and that is there is going to come a time, at some point, I’m sure, in which the people of Mississippi are going to want to change the flag. My position is that when they want to do that, it should be the people who make that decision, not some backroom deal by a bunch of politicians in Jackson,” the Governor said on June 8.

Money can be a driving force behind a lot of decisions in this world, and if Mississippi’s flag doesn’t change, college towns in the state could stand to lose a lot of it.