The NCAA has revised its policies regarding the Mississippi State flag, potentially impacting Conference USA member school Southern Miss.
Social changes sweeping the nation continue to impact college sports, including Conference USA. The state of Mississippi is one of the most recent to come under fire. Restrictions surrounding the state flag, which bears a Confederate logo, have become increasingly more intense.
First, the SEC announced they would not be holding conference championship events in Mississippi until the flag was changed. Conference USA added their concerns soon after, stopping short of a total ban on par with the SEC. Instead, their admonition came across as more of a concern.
The NCAA followed with the hammer. Their demands were crystal clear: if the flag flies, the NCAA will not allow championship events of any kind in the state.
NCAA Chairman and Ohio State president Michael V. Drake was explicit in his statement:
There is no place in college athletics or the world for symbols or acts of discrimination and oppression. 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.
Public universities in the state of Mississippi have not flown the flag for several years. Southern Miss, Conference USA’s tie into this discussion, does not fly the flag either. But it is flown in the state of Mississippi, making the future uncertain.
Southern Miss is tentatively scheduled to host the Conference USA Baseball championship in 2022, but it’s possible there could be conflict before then. If, for example, the Golden Eagles qualify to host a regional in baseball they would not be allowed to do so under the new NCAA policy.
Public pressure for change has never been higher. The financial ramifications of losing collegiate championship events are not trivial.
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