AP, August 1, 2006
Columbia, S.C. — The NCAA will consider expanding its ban of championship events in South Carolina, possibly disallowing baseball and football teams from hosting postseason games, because the Confederate flag is displayed on Statehouse grounds.
Robert Vowels Jr., head of the NCAA’s Minority Opportunities and Interest Committee, said his group received a request from the Black Coaches Association about widening the ban. Predetermined postseason events, such as basketball regionals and cross-country championships — are now barred from South Carolina sites.
“I think it’s something worth looking at,” said Vowels, commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
The NAACP started an economic boycott of South Carolina in 2000 because the Confederate flag flew over the Capitol dome. The Legislature voted that spring to move the flag to the Confederate monument in front of the Statehouse. However, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has continued its boycott, saying the legislative action did not go far enough.
In 2001, the NCAA announced a two-year moratorium on awarding predetermined postseason events to the state. The governing body has continued the ban indefinitely, saying in 2004 that significant change on the issue had not taken place in South Carolina.
Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches Association, said he received a request from members about furthering action against the state and closing what he saw as a loophole.
“I don’t know that anybody is comfortable playing in a place where they fly the Confederate flag,” he said by telephone Tuesday.
A subcommittee will study the question before bringing any recommendations to the full panel, Vowels said. He expects the process to take several months.
The Rev. Joseph Darby, vice president of Charleston’s NAACP chapter and a former officer at the state level, says it’s appropriate for the BCA and NCAA to raise questions about the flag because of the number of blacks who participate in college and pro sports.
“It’s a matter of respect,” he said. “They should be able to come into a state that’s visibly welcoming of them.”