The NCAA’s board of governors announced Friday it is expanding its policy on the Confederate flag to bar any collegiant championship events from being played in states where the symbol is prominently displayed.
The NCAA’s previous policy prohibited the awarding of sites determined in advance to states that display the flag but allowed events to be held in such states if a college or university team earned the right to host a game based on its tournament seeding or ranking, which was considered a nonpredetermined award.
The new policy issues a blanket ban on any championship events from being held in states where the Confederate flag is prominent.
The announcement will only impact Mississippi, whose state flag still incorporates the Confederate flag.
“There is no place in college athletics or the world for symbols or acts of discrimination and oppression,” Michael Drake, chairman of the board, 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.”
Mississippi has also been threatened by the Southeastern Conference (SEC) over its flag, with Commissioner Greg Sankey leveraging that no SEC conference events will be held in the state unless it changes its flag.
“It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi,” Sankey said Friday. “Our students deserve an opportunity to learn and compete in environments that are inclusive and welcoming 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 flag is changed,” he added.
The moves come amid widespread civil unrest over systemic racism and police brutality after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis after an officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
The conversation over racism has thrust Confederate monuments and flags into the spotlight, with Congress currently debating whether to remove statues commemorating figures from the Confederacy from Capitol Hill and renaming military bases named after members of the Confederacy.