Greg Sankey, Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, has called for the removal of the Mississippi state flag.
Sankey goes on to say that if there is not a change to the design of the flag, which contains the Confederate Battle Symbol the SEC could choose to refuse to host championship events in the state of Mississippi.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) June 18, 2020
This revoking of championship events would apply to all sports that take place at universities within the SEC like Ole Miss and Mississippi State. According to ESPN the last championship event held in the state was in 2016 when Mississippi State hosted the softball tournament in Starkville.
Sankey’s statement came after the NCAA banned any of its predetermined postseason events from being held in Mississippi because of the flag in 2001.
Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum issues the following statement shortly after Sankey’s was make public.
“Clearly, the current national climate is such that this debate may produce unintended consequences for our student athletes here at Mississippi State University and those at the University of Mississippi. In addition, there may be similar unintended consequences for academic pursuits at our all our state’s public universities and negative economic impacts on the state’s communities as well. Since 2015, our Student Association, Robert Holland Faculty Senate and university administration have been firmly on record in support of changing the state flag. I have reiterated that view to our state’s leaders on multiple occasions, including during face-to-face discussions in recent days and hours. On June 12, I wrote to the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the Mississippi House reaffirming that support. The letter said, in part, that our flag should be unifying, not a symbol that divides us. I emphasized that it is time for a renewed, respectful debate on this issue.”
MSU AD John Cohen followed suit.
— John Cohen (@JohnCohenAD) June 18, 2020
Ole Miss Chancellor also chimes in
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
It is unclear what the Legislature and state officials will do moving forward to avoid these problems before the end of the 2020 session.
After the passage of a resolution to allow session to extend until October 5, members could come back. However, the resolution was clear they are only allowed to return to handle COVID-19 issues in the even the Federal government issues more dollars to appropriate. Therefore, it is likely a move on the flag would have to be made before the estimated departure from the capitol next week.
The most recent resolution filed was by Senator Derrick Simmons which would give the Legislature autonomy over the decision to change the flag, and to what. Leadership has indicated that the bill does not have enough votes to pass the Constitution committee it was referred to.