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NCAA keeps softball championship at Ole Miss despite NAACP objections

The Mississippi branch of the NAACP is unhappy that the 2017 college softball championship tournament is being played at the University of Mississippi due to the Confederate flag remaining as part of the state’s flag.

The NCAA has had a policy since 2001 that championships be kept out of states which display the Confederate flag; however, this applies to “pre-determined” events. The current championship was decided by softball teams’ performance, and as such Ole Miss earned the right to host the tourney.

The NAACP isn’t buying it.

SB Nation reports that state NAACP President Derrick Johnson said “the NCAA has a longstanding policy of opposing racism” and “didn’t understand why they’d decide to balk now.”

“A ban on ‘NCAA postseason events that are not pre-selected’ is not enough,” Johnson said. “It is not enough to oppose symbols of racism for baseball or softball regionals then conspicuously ignore that same racism for basketball and golf.

“If the NCAA truly oppose states where the confederate flag is flown prominently then they must oppose it in all instances were [sic] symbols of racism are prevalent.”

From the story:

At the university level, Ole Miss hasn’t fully been in agreement. A spokesperson for the athletics department told SB Nation this week that they were working internally to decide if they’d address the NAACP’s stance.

Hours later, a different spokesperson deferred comment to the university’s 2015 statement when the state flag was removed from campus and the university preached inclusiveness. Additionally, the spokesperson said “the flag has not flown in our athletics facilities since 2014.”

Ron Rychlak, an Ole Miss law professor and the university’s Faculty Athletics Representative, said the NCAA is using its strength to try and affect state policy. The problem, he said, is “harming” teams like Ole Miss and their ability to have home-field advantage.

“When the university does not fly the flag, I hope that we can get past the point where you are going to be unable to celebrate the accomplishments of these young women because you are worried about this other matter,” Rychlak said. “Their accomplishments are significant, and I’d hate to take their accomplishments, and what this team did, to do something or achieve something that’s unrelated to college athletes and softball.”

The local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is siding with the NAACP, saying “it’s their hope that the NCAA will hold true to its core values of fostering inclusivity through its athletics.”

“While individuals have a right to express themselves individually and on their private property, government speech does not have that same right,” Mississippi branch Executive Director Jennifer Riley Collins said.

“Confederate emblems, which are not reflective of our diversity, are not appropriate for today’s government, and signify a defiance against equality and a refusal to fairly administer justice.”

Read the full article.

MORE: After Uproar, ‘Ole Miss’ Leaders Defend Embattled Nickname, Pledge To Keep It

MORE: U. North Carolina student starts petition to ban Confederate flag in state school district

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