NCAA

Mississippi to change state flag after pressure from NCAA, SEC

Mississippi to change state flag after pressure from NCAA, SEC

On Sunday, legislators in Mississippi passed a bill to change the official state flag, eliminating the Confederate flag as a symbol of the state. 

NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement following the decision:

“We are pleased the Mississippi legislature has acted swiftly to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag, and we look forward to Governor Reeves signing this bill. It has too long served as a symbol of oppression, racism and justice. We welcome this important move by state lawmakers to remove the symbol from prominence in the state, which will also open the opportunity to host NCAA championships after the recent expanded championship policy.”

College athletics ultimately put significant pressure on the state and was a major contributor to this change. The pressure began when SEC commissioner Greg Sankey issued a statement earlier in June stating that the conference would not hold any championship events in Mississippi until the flag was changed. 

The NCAA backed the conference and raised the ante by refusing to hold championship events in any state with flags that showcased the Confederate battle emblem.

The dispute reached its peak on June 22 when Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill tweeted that he would not represent the state until the flag was changed. Hill is considered the SEC’s top returning running back this season and was immediately supported by a number of his teammates.

Ultimately, the SEC’s efforts were successful as coaches from around the state including Mississippi State’s Mike Leach and Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin lobbied legislators at the state’s capitol late last week and prompted the historic decision.

"This is a great day to be a Mississippian," Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter said. "I am proud of all who have had a part in this momentous decision for our state, including the leaders on our own campus that fought hard for what is right. While there is still much work to be done, this is a big step in achieving the welcoming and inclusive environment that our state needs and every person deserves."

Because of this change, as Emmert referenced in his statement, Mississippi is now a viable contender to host championship events again.

The bill passed in the state’s House of Representatives and Senate and is on its way to Governor Tate Reeves, who said he will sign the bill if it made it to his office. In addition, a commission will be created to approve the new design this fall –– a design that will reportedly include the phrase “In God We Trust,” according to the Associated Press.

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NCAA president Mark Emmert says fall championships can't happen at this time

NCAA president Mark Emmert says fall championships can't happen at this time

While conferences and schools across the nation are withdrawing from the 2020 fall sports season due to the coronavirus pandemic, others remain adamant that games and seasons can be played.

However, for those who are planning on having a fall campaign, their hopes of competing for a championship could still be derailed. According to NCAA president Mark Emmert, all Division I sports besides football --- which operates on the bowl schedule -- are in jeopardy of losing a title season due to the lack of teams involved.

“We cannot, now at this point, have fall NCAA Championships because there’s not enough schools participating," Emmert said during the NCAA Social Series on Thursday. "The Board of Governors also said, ‘look if you don’t have half the schools playing the sport you can’t have a legitimate championship.’”

Emmert noted that the fall can still be beneficial to universities as programs can put all their focus into safety protocols and maintaining the health of players. Additionally, players can still remain on campus and prepare for the spring season.

As for actual competition in the coming months, Emmert has begun to look ahead to 2021 with the hope that teams have the opportunity to compete when the spring comes around. Specifically, he wants to make sure that winter and spring sports -- who already lost a season in 2020 -- are not forced to suffer through the same fate again.

In order to do that, he's considering numerous altercations to sports such as modified bubbles and smaller brackets for postseason play. The procedures will become clearer in the coming months as more questions about the virus and its impact are answered.

For now, Emmert is optimistic that the NCAA has the capability to bring sports back in a safe way. But to do so, a lot of work still needs to be done.

“There’s a way to do it. Will it be normal? Of course not, you’ll be playing fall sports in the spring. Will it create other challenges? Of course. But is it doable? Yeah, it is doable and we want to do that," Emmert said. "We want to, again, make it work for these students.”

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Report: Big 12 planning to play football this fall

Report: Big 12 planning to play football this fall

Despite growing momentum to cancel the fall football season, the Big 12 reportedly is moving forward with their plans to play.

ESPN reporter Sam Khan Jr. reported on Wednesday morning that the Big 12's board of directors met for over an hour yesterday to discuss the fallout of decisions made to postpone the fall season from conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12. 

Following days of speculation the Big Ten would cancel fall sports, the conference officially pulled the plug Tuesday citing concerns of the myriad of complications that come along with playing a season during a pandemic. 

The Big 12, however, is leading the charge in trying to set up safe way to play the fall season. ESPN reported there will be revised conference-only schedules coming out shortly after the season was again pushed back to Sept. 26. Stadium reported the Big 12 may have more news. 

The decision also comes on the back of growing support from athletes to find a solution in making sure this season gets played. The face of college football, Trevor Lawrence, has repeatedly tweeted his stance that going forward with a season will actually be safer for the athletes

Whether or not more Power 5 sides like the SEC and ACC follow suit remains to be seen, but it is widely speculated that these football-crazed conferences are determined to find a way. 

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