Eric Adelson, Yahoo! News, March 19, 2015
South Carolina is hosting an NCAA tournament game for the first time in 13 years, and there are more than a few members of the NAACP who aren’t happy about it.
The Palmetto State is under an NCAA tournament ban because it flies the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds. But the organization is allowing the SEC champion Gamecocks to host games this weekend because of a new format delegating home dates to top-16 seeds in March Madness.
So the home team gets to stay home even though the ban is still in effect.
“If they were really serious about supporting the cause of justice, there would be no loopholes,” said Lonnie Randolph, president of the state chapter of the NAACP.
Randolph said he accepts the NCAA’s decision, but he’s upset his group was not informed until it was made.
“I don’t agree with how they handled it,” Randolph said. “We didn’t have a chance to have a conversation with them about it.”
In an email to Yahoo Sports, NCAA spokesman Cameron Schuh explained the decision to allow the Gamecocks to host:
“With this format making it a non-predetermined NCAA championship, schools in South Carolina and Mississippi are now permitted to serve as hosts for those rounds of the championship. Under the previous format, schools in South Carolina and Mississippi were not permitted to host championship games in any round due to the NCAA confederate flag policy, which states that no predetermined NCAA championship site may take place in a state where the confederate flag has a prominent presence.”
Randolph is sensitive to the concern that the players themselves suffered because of the rule, and that has lessened his resentment to the shift in format. “This isn’t about punishing people,” he said.
Yet nothing could mitigate his resentment of the flag.
“What the confederacy stands for,” Randolph said, “is against everything America stands for.”