Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education
Coaches Ask NCAA to AVOID SOUTH CAROLINA
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- For the time being, the National Collegiate Athletics Association will take a wait and see approach in responding to a plea to move the 2002 Division I Men's South Regional Basketball Tournament from Greenville, S.C.
The Black Coaches Association and the National Association of Basketball Coaches have joined forces in pushing for a change of venue because South Carolina flies the Confederate flag over its Statehouse and has yet to recognize the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a permanent state holiday. King's birthday has been a national holiday for 14 years.
The flying of the Confederate flag has created a wave of controversy. Opponents argue that it symbolizes slavery and racial bigotry. Supporters counter that the flag represents the state's heritage and provides a means to honor Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.
South Carolina's legislature is the sole body that has the power to remove the flag, which first went up in 1962 as part of the Civil War centennial celebration.
The call for taking the flag down comes at a time when South Carolina is under heavy pressure from an NAACP-inspired boycott designed to hamper the state's lucrative tourism industry.
Given the political angles of this issue, it's not likely that the NCAA will take any action any time soon.
"I'm inclined to think that the NCAA will not rush to judgement about this," says Charles Harris, commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. "With so much lead time available, there's no need to decide anything right away.
"My feeling," he continues, "is that the folks in South Carolina will work this out on their own, long before it's time to play the regionals in Greenville." Wallace Renfro, NCAA public affairs director, gives assurances that the NCAA takes this issue seriously. Renfro said the NCAA will keep an eye on future developments in South Carolina, but there will be no decisions rendered at this time. …