Mississippi schools can't host any NCAA championship events after NCAA broadens Confederate flag policy

Mississippi schools that win the right to host an NCAA championship event with a successful season won’t be able to play those games at home until the state’s flag is changed.

The NCAA broadened its Confederate flag policy on Friday and Mississippi is the only state affected by the change because of the presence of the flag on its state flag.

Before Friday, the NCAA’s longstanding Confederate flag rule prevented the state from hosting things such as NCAA men’s basketball tournament games and other title events that the governing body awarded on a predetermined basis. Now, events like baseball and softball regionals — basically any event at a postseason site determined by a team’s regular-season success — are also prohibited in the state.

Both Ole Miss and Mississippi State hosted baseball regionals in 2019 and Mississippi State’s women’s basketball team is one of the best in the country. MSU women’s basketball has regularly hosted first and second-round NCAA tournament games.

“There is no place in college athletics or the world for symbols or acts of discrimination and oppression,” Ohio State president and NCAA board chair Michael Drake said in a statement. “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.”

The NCAA’s ban was first enacted in 2001 and encompasses 90 title events across 24 sports.

“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,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said. “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.”

Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen said in a statement that it was “unfortunate that our hard-working student-athletes, staff and coaches could be potentially affected by something beyond their control, but we understand this is much bigger than athletics.”

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In this Nov. 28, 2009 photograph, University of Mississippi fans wave the remodeled "M" flag for the university in the stands at last year's Egg Bowl game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss. The university 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 in 2003. Students vote Tuesday on a new mascot.  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Mississippi will no longer be able to host baseball or softball regionals. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

SEC put pressure on state Thursday

The NCAA’s policy expansion comes after the SEC urged Mississippi to change the state flag. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are both members of the conference, and commissioner Greg Sankey said it’s “past time for change to be made to the flag of the state of Mississippi.”

Sankey said in his statement that the SEC would consider preventing the state from hosting any conference title events if the flag isn’t changed.

His statement was supported by both Ole Miss and Mississippi State. The pushback against the Mississippi state flag comes as Confederate monuments across the country have been taken down and students at numerous schools have asked for buildings and facilities named after segregationists and slaveholders to be renamed.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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