The chief of America’s premier college football conference just sent a stern message to the State of Mississippi: Get the confederate flag out of your state flag, or risk not hosting another SEC Championship game again.
Greg Sankey, the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, delivered that message in a statement released Thursday.
“It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi,” Sankey said in a 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.”
As ESPN reports:
The SEC last ran a championship event in Mississippi in May 2016, when Mississippi State hosted the softball tournament in Starkville. The NCAA already banned any of its predetermined postseason events from being held in Mississippi because of the flag.
As for the University of Mississippi, the school’s leadership agrees that it’s time to change the state flag.
“The University of Mississippi community concluded years ago that the Confederate battle flag did not represent many of our core values, such as civility and respect for others,” UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce said in a statement.. “In 2016, the university stopped flying the state flag over our campus. Mississippi needs a flag that represents the qualities of our state that unite us, not those that still divide us. We support the SEC’s position for changing the Mississippi State flag to an image that is more welcoming and inclusive for all people.”
While Boyce and others may agree with the SEC’s position, the residents of the state take a different view. In 2001, Mississippians voted to keep the state’s flag. Though, in light of the protests and riots in response to the killing of George Floyd, a bill was recently introduced to remove the Confederate portion of the flag.
Mississippi is the only state in the union that has retained the Confederate flag as a part its official state flag. The state last hosted an SEC championship event in May of 2016.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn