The battle begins.
The NCAA and the Southeast Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey have a message for Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and the Mississippi legislature. Change your state flag and you will get minor championship events. The Confederate’s Stars and Bars is part of the Mississippi flag and a Confederate flag flies near the capitol grounds in Jackson. Sankey got endorsements from University of Mississippi chancellor and athletic director. There are other schools that play big time sports in the state including Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi. Mississippi voters in 2001 voted to keep the flag but 12 Democratic state legislators recently indicated that they want to see a different flag. Mississippi’s Lieutenant Governor Republican Delbert Hosemann doesn’t seem too inclined to go along with the 12 Democrats and sent the legislation to the Senate Constitution Committee when it stands no chance of getting out of committee.
College sports leaders generally shut up and let student athletes play. But there are exceptions to the rule. South Carolina’s flying a Confederate flag at a soldier’s monument near the state capital of Columbia became a problem. There was a 15-year effort to take down the flag and the National Collegiate Athletic Association was part of that campaign. The NCAA had a moratorium on awarding championship events to South Carolina beginning in 2001, a year after the NAACP began a boycott of the state because of the Confederate flag flying issue. In July 2009, the college sports’ Atlantic Coast Conference pulled the 2011, 2012 and 2013 conference baseball championships from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In 2015, South Carolina lawmakers removed the Confederate flag. Back in Mississippi, Conference USA member Southern Mississippi was scheduled to hold the Conference USA 2022 Baseball tournament. Mississippi does not get major college events because it does not have the population or facilities to handle them.