You won’t often see collegiate conference commissioners going after their own schools, but that’s what happened today when SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey again raised the issue of the Confederate flag still being a part of the State of Mississippi flag. And for the first time potential sanctions on the two members schools in that state if a change isn’t made have been broached.
Of course this was likely done in concert with the two schools involved, and the lead administrators for Ole Miss and Mississippi State were ready.
A message from Chancellor Glenn Boyce and Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Keith Carter. pic.twitter.com/gqJxxj6ca6— Ole Miss Athletics (@OleMissSports) June 19, 2020
Even the oft-controversial new head coach of Bulldogs football Mike Leach, who has appeared at rallies for President Trump previously, has shown his support for a change.
I support President Keenum. At Mississippi State University I embrace the inclusion of all People and open dialogue on all issues. Hail State! https://t.co/iFCssa3EwF— Mike Leach (@Coach_Leach) June 19, 2020
This comes on the heels of a group of student-athlete’s from the state asking the NCAA to extend the rule that bans the state from hosting any postseason events in any sport. As of now, events that set a location in advance, such as the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament regional, can’t be hosted in the state because of the flag, thanks to a 2001 ruling that also included South Carolina. South Carolina changed their state flag in 2015.
This change would extend that to sports such as baseball and early-round women’s basketball where the highest-rated team often hosts the first games of the competition on campus.
UPDATE 11:57 a.m.: The rule was changed this morning by the NCAA, and no NCAA postseason event can take place in Mississippi.
The NCAA's expanded confederate flag policy means no baseball or softball regionals in Mississippi unless the state flag is changed.https://t.co/IoLY3oUAVb— David Cobb (@DavidWCobb) June 19, 2020
The only other time this sanction was levied on a state it was Nevada, which wasn’t allowed to host any postseason competition due to legalized sports betting. That rule was overturned in full last year.
No conference has ever withheld postseason hosting from member schools. It’s a bold step taken by a league centered in a part of the country where these steps won’t always be popular. But with a majority of the conference’s heavily-recruited players in the revenue sports of football and men’s basketball being black, the pressure to make change is strong.
A bill to change the flag in the Mississippi Senate doesn’t appear to have the needed five votes on a committee of nine to move forward as of yesterday.