S. Carolina's removal of Confederate flag leads to NCAA decision

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA ended a nearly 15-year ban on South Carolina hosting sanctioned championship events following the decision to remove the Confederate flag from the state's Capitol grounds.

Gov. Nikki Haley signed the legislation Thursday.

NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a statement commending South Carolina's lawmakers for taking the action.

"The NCAA opposes this symbol of racism, and since 2001 we have demonstrated our opposition by not playing pre-selected championships in states where the flag was flown prominently," Emmert said in a statement. "The removal of the Confederate flag now means that South Carolina can bid to host future NCAA championships."

The ban applied to all championship events with predetermined host sites, such as the men's basketball tournament. Events that were assigned to home teams, such as the baseball tournament, were exempt from the ban.

The Confederate battle flag also appears in the state flag of Mississippi. Mississippi State faculty voted in 2001 to support a change to the flag. On Thursday, school president Mark Keenum reiterated that position.

"Flags should unite us and bring us together, not divide us. The tragic events in South Carolina and the evolving national debate over the state flag is a debate that should take place today in Mississippi," Keenum said in a statement.

"As the university with the highest percentage African American enrollment in the Southeastern Conference, this debate is relevant and important to us. Finally, MSU would certainly prefer the opportunity to host NCAA championships on behalf of our student-athletes, coaches, and university community."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.