SEC Threatens to Pull Events from Mississippi Until State Flag Changes

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey is putting the pressure on the Magnolia State

SEC Threatens to Pull Events From Mississippi Until State Flag Changes
A Mississippi flag seen at a game between the Mississippi Rebels and the LSU Tigers. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty)
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As the movement to remove symbols and statues honoring the Confederacy due to their connotations with racism grows, the NCAA’s Southeastern Conference is putting the pressure on Mississippi to change its state flag.

In a statement, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the conference may pull its championship events from Mississippi until its flag is changed. The Magnolia State is the only state that still has the Confederate flag within its flag, though other state flags still contain other Confederate symbols.

“It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi,” Sankey said in the statement. “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.”

After Sankey’s statement was released, Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen offered his support for changing the flag. “Mississippi State University is proud to be among the most diverse universities in the SEC,” Cohen said a statement of his own. “Alongside our university leadership, we aim to continue our support for changing the state flag, which should unite us, not divide us.”

The University of Mississippi, which has not flown the flag on campus since 2015, also came out in support of getting rid of the symbol of the Confederacy.

“Mississippi needs a flag that represents the qualities about our state that unite us, not those that still divide us,” Ole Miss administrators said in a statement. “We support the SEC’s position for changing the Mississippi state flag to an image that is more welcoming and inclusive for all people.”

It remains to be seen how effective the pressure will be, as the SEC hasn’t had a championship event in Mississippi since 2016. The NCAA has already banned any predetermined postseason events from being held in Mississippi because of the flag, and that did not inspire state lawmakers to change it.

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