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Southeastern Conference pushes state of Mississippi to change its flag

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey says "it is past time for change to be made to the flag," adding that the league will consider no league championships to be held in the state if no change is made.

The Southeastern Conference is considering barring league championship events in Mississippi until the state changes its Confederate-based flag.

“It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Thursday 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.”

The NCAA already said it would not schedule postseason sporting events in Mississippi because of the flag that features the Confederate Battle Flag in the upper left corner.

Mississippi State University president Mark Keenum released a statement after Sankey’s comments.

“Clearly, the current national climate is such that this debate may produce unintended consequences for our student athletes here at Mississippi State University and those at the University of Mississippi,” Keenum said. “In addition, there may be similar unintended consequences for academic pursuits at our all our state’s public universities and negative economic impacts on the state’s communities as well.

“Since 2015, our Student Association, Robert Holland Faculty Senate and university administration have been firmly on record in support of changing the state flag. I have reiterated that view to our state’s leaders on multiple occasions, including during face-to-face discussions in recent days and hours. On June 12, I wrote to the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the Mississippi House reaffirming that support. The letter said, in part, that our flag should be unifying, not a symbol that divides us. I emphasized that it is time for a renewed, respectful debate on this issue.”

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