Collegiate Athletic Organization Says Future Events in Mississippi Are On the Line With Flag Vote
Members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association say they may move regional events from Mississippi if voters do not choose a new flag April 17.
The NCAA is considering requests not to schedule postseason competition in states that fly the Confederate flag on their capitol grounds or include it in their state flag. Mississippi and Georgia flags contain the symbol.
Mississippi has been host to a number of NCAA regionals, most notably in baseball, tennis and women’s basketball.
“I do think the NCAA might take a stand that future events held in places where the flag has a place of prominence might be discouraged,” says former executive committee member Clint Bryant, athletic director at Augusta State University in Georgia. “I’d be guessing, but I do think there’s enough sentiment among presidents, and coaches and athletes that we shouldn’t be playing events at these places.”
The flag issue was discussed at the NCAA’s convention last month in Orlando and is scheduled to be considered again in April in Indianapolis.
The organization is making contingency plans in case it decides to move the 2002 men’s or 2003 women’s Final Four basketball tournaments out of Atlanta.
Calls for a boycott have come from the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and have won backing from the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the Black Coaches Association. Mississippi flag supporters bristled at the news.
“I think Mississippians in general don’t react well to that kind of blackmail,” says Greg Stewart, commander of the University Greys of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “I think that’s how most Mississippians would respond to it. Why don’t we ban the NCAA from having events in our state if that’s how they feel?”
Mississippi State University could be the hardest hit athletic program if the NCAA stops holding postseason competition at Mississippi sites. The baseball Bulldogs have hosted 10 NCAA regionals, and last year’s set a national record by drawing 47,365 fans to its seven games.
The presidents of Mississippi’s eight public universities said last month that they support a new state flag.
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