NCAA, SEC and Mississippi State officials issue statements after legislators vote to change state of Mississippi flag

Joel Coleman

In the wake of Sunday's historic vote by legislators to change the state of Mississippi's flag, Mississippi State President Mark Keenum, MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey and NCAA President Mark Emmert all issued statements. Here are those statements in their entirety:

Mississippi State President Mark Keenum:

“I heartily commend the Mississippi Legislature for their vision, commitment, and courage in voting to give our state a new flag in which all Mississippians can feel unity and pride. I am also appreciative for the support of our governor in this endeavor. Our elected officials provided a thoughtful, engaged audience to university leaders and to our MSU contingent who traveled to Jackson to respectfully advocate for change.

“Yes, a new flag promises to make a difference in how the rest of the world views our state - but I believe the real value of this change will be in the way that we view ourselves. The Bulldog family played a significant role in bringing this change about. Whether among our lawmakers or as citizens engaged as advocates at the Capitol, on the phone, or on social media, Mississippi State was effective in joining a sweeping coalition of Mississippi stakeholders in making this victory possible.

“Now, we must continue the long and complex work of effecting meaningful racial reconciliation, ensuring social justice, and providing opportunities for economic prosperity for all Mississippians.”

Mississippi State Director of Athletics John Cohen:

“Changing the flag was the right thing to do, and a meaningful step forward in our state. Many great Mississippians worked extremely hard to make this happen. We are proud of all who took a stand, came together to support a change and seized the opportunity to be on the right side of history. This is important not only for our athletics programs but for our university and entire state. Our state needs and deserves a flag that unites all Mississippians. Together, we are stronger.”

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey:

"I am proud of our universities' leadership, and the engagement of student-athletes and coaches in the efforts to change the State of Mississippi flag. The agreement to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the flag is a positive and appropriate action, and I applaud the Mississippi House of Representatives and Senate for today's action. I am also grateful for Governor Reeves' openness to sign a bill to change the flag. As I have frequently said, our students deserve the opportunity to learn and compete in welcoming environments. (Sunday's) action is welcomed in the spirit of this goal."

NCAA President Mark Emmert:

"We are pleased the Mississippi legislature has acted swiftly to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag, and we look forward to Governor Reeves signing this bill. It has too long served as a symbol of oppression, racism and injustice.

"We welcome this important move by state lawmakers to remove the symbol from prominence in the state, which will also open the opportunity to host NCAA championships after the recently expanded championship policy."

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