The NCAA’s Board of Governors put its clout behind a change in Mississippi’s state flag with a dramatic move on Friday morning.
The NCAA panel expanded its “Confederate flag policy” to prevent any championship events from being played “in states where the symbol has a prominent presence.”
Mississippi's flag incorporates the Confederate battle emblem.
As the statement from the Board of Governors noted, “Mississippi is the only state currently affected by the Association’s policy.”
The move comes one day after the Southeastern Conference urged the state to change its official symbol under threat of loss of championship events.
Most notably, this would forbid the state’s major college baseball programs “Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss” from hosting NCAA regional or super regional playoff games. Also, first- and second-round NCAA women’s basketball playoff games would be off the table until the flag is changed.
Mississippi State has hosted 14 NCAA baseball regionals and three super regionals, most recently in 2019. Ole Miss has hosted nine regionals, most recently in 2019, and three super regionals. Southern Miss has hosted regionals twice (2003, 2017).
MSU’s women hosted games in the first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tourney for four-consecutive years beginning in 2016.
The NCAA Confederate flag policy was enacted in 2001 due to the flag’s prominence in various states at that time.
“There is no place in college athletics or the world for symbols or acts of discrimination and oppression,” said Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of the Ohio State University, said in a statement on Friday. “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 executive panel reviewed the policy in 2014, per a request by the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee. The policy remained unchanged at that time, which allowed schools competing in sports such as baseball, softball, lacrosse and later women’s basketball the opportunity to host preliminary non-determined championship events in their home state, which included Mississippi. That will no longer be allowed under the expanded flag policy.