Mississippi can still host NCAA Regional tourneys, but…

The new legislation, passed by the NCAA’s Board of Governors, requires that sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is “safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”

The NCAA legislation is an obvious response to laws like the recently passed Mississippi HB 1523, signed by Governor Phil Bryant last month. That law, which goes into effect July 1, allows private businesses, along with government workers, to deny services and goods to the LGBT community (or anyone, really) based on religious beliefs.

Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss all have teams that have won enough to be considered as a regional host this spring. Last week, Mississippi athletic directors were scrambling to learn what the new NCAA legislation actually means.

What they learned is that, beginning with the 2016-17 school year, the universities will bear the burden of proof to show that their individual schools will run a discrimination-free, inclusive event.

“We don’t anticipate a problem,” said Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin. “That’s already how we operate.”

The same is true at Southern Miss and Ole Miss.

Essentially, the NCAA legislation will require more paperwork, which, in effect, says, “Although our state has passed this law, we choose not to enforce it on our campus.”

Mississippi remains the only state where pre-determined NCAA post-season events cannot be played because of the state’s flag, which includes the Confederate battle flag. South Carolina escaped the NCAA’s “banned” list when it removed the Confederate flag from its Capitol grounds.

In other words: And then there was one — us.

Rick Cleveland