Thursday, January 18, 2007

NCAA Committee Sets Sights on Confederate Flag

The Confederate flag will again be placed in the forefront of NCAA discussions next week when the Minority Opportunity and Interests Committee holds its annual winter meeting in Indianapolis. The MOIC, an advisory committee formed by the NCAA to examine diversity in intercollegiate athletics, will meet Monday and Tuesday evening to discuss a number of issues. Among the issues set to be discussed is the placement of the Confederate flag on the state flag of Mississippi, as well as the state capitol of South Carolina. Southwestern Athletic Conference commissioner Robert Vowels Jr., who serves as chair of the MOIC, confirmed that the Confederate flag will be a topic of conversation, but is not the sole reason for the meeting."This is our annual winter meeting and there is a host of issues on the docket," Vowels said. "One issue to talk about is the Confederate flag and the stance of both Mississippi and South Carolina."Currently, there is an NCAA-mandated ban on predetermined NCAA championships (such as basketball regional sites) in Mississippi and South Carolina because of the presence of the Confederate flag.However, merit-based NCAA postseason events, such as the hosting of a baseball or tennis regional, are currently permitted in South Carolina and Mississippi by the NCAA.Vowels said the decision to address the merit-based postseason events was made this past summer when Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches Association, came to Vowels with the proposal.Keith refused to comment for this story but did speak with CSTV in an August 2006 interview. He told CSTV, "I don't know that anybody is comfortable playing in a place where they fly the Confederate flag."Should the NCAA choose to extend the ban to merit-based postseason events, the Ole Miss baseball and men's tennis teams, which have each hosted regionals in Oxford in previous seasons, would be prevented from hosting the events in the future.

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