NCAA bans Mississippi from hosting any championships over state flag
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The NCAA Board of Governors is banning any NCAA championship events from being held in Mississippi.
The decision was made due to the Confederate symbol represented in Mississippi’s state flag.
The policy, enacted in 2001, previously included sites that were determined in advance of a championship, but now includes events where Mississippi teams may host championships.
This means Mississippi teams will not be able to host a regional or super regional championship on campus, for example.
“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.”
Thursday night, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey called on Mississippi to change the state flag, and Ole Miss and Mississippi State leaders put out statements in agreement with Sankey.
As recently as 2019, both Mississippi State and Ole Miss hosted regionals in baseball, and Mississippi State hosted a super regional. Mississippi State women’s basketball and Ole Miss softball have also hosted multiple regionals in the past few years.
The C-USA Baseball Championship has also been hosted in Mississippi since 2014, with games in Hattiesburg and Biloxi.
Those games would have to be played elsewhere under the new rules.
Leaders of Mississippi’s eight public universities issued a joint statement in response, pointing to decisions made in the past to remove the state flag from campuses. The statement appears below in its entirety:
“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.”
President Felecia M. Nave, Ph.D., Alcorn State University
President William LaForge, LL.M., Delta State University
Interim President Thomas K. Hudson, J.D., Jackson State University
President Mark E. Keenum, Ph.D., Mississippi State University
President Nora Roberts Miller, M.B.A., Mississippi University for Women
President Jerryl Briggs, Sr., Ed.D., Mississippi Valley State University
Chancellor Glenn F. Boyce, Ed.D., University of Mississippi
President Rodney D. Bennett, Ed.D.. University of Southern Mississippi
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