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SEC Calls on State of Mississippi to Change State Flag

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SEC commissioner Greg Sankey issued a call to action Thursday evening regarding the state flag of Mississippi. 

"It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi," Sankey said in a statement. "Our students deserve an opportunity to learn and compete in environments that are inclusive and welcoming to all. 

"In the event that there is no change, there will be consideration of precluding Southeastern Conference championship events from being conducted in the State of Mississippi until the state flag is changed."

CBS News' Kate Smith reported earlier this week that momentum is growing in the state to adjust its flag, which prominently displays elements of the Confederate flag in its own ensign. 

Last week, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers began drafting legislation to change the state flag, per CBS News, the first time the issue has been addressed seriously since 2001. 

Mississippi has the highest percentage of Black Americans in the country.

TheGroveReport: SEC, Ole Miss and Mississippi State Pushing for Change of Mississippi Flag

Mississippi State president Mark Keenum issued a statement shortly after Sankey’s statement was published.

“Since 2015, our Student Association, Robert Holland Faculty Senate and university administration have been firmly on record in support of changing the state flag,” Keenum said in the statement. “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.”

Ole Miss chancellor Glenn Boyce and vice chancellor for Intercollegiate athletics Keith Carter also issued a statement saying, "The University of Mississippi community concluded years ago that the Confederate battle flag did not represent many of our core values, such as civility and respect for others. In 2015, the university stopped flying the state flag over our campus. Mississippi needs a flag that represents the qualities about our state that unite us, not those that still divide us. We support the SEC's position for changing the Mississippi state flag to an image that is more welcoming and inclusive for all people."

In recent weeks, a number of symbols from the Confederacy have been removed from across the United States.

On June 10, NASCAR announced it would prohibit the presence of the Confederate flag from all events and properties. 

"The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry," NASCAR wrote in its statement. "Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all events and properties."