| ||Monday, April 17|
Flag controversy won't sway NCAA
INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA will not exclude any school in South Carolina from consideration as a Division I baseball tournament host because of that state's controversy over the Confederate flag. The organization's baseball committee met on Monday to discuss which schools will receive letters soliciting bids to host NCAA regional and super-regional games in May and June. "They listened to a report on it. There was a brief discussion," NCAA spokesman Wally Renfro said. "We are not having this (flag) discussion in our governance bodies until later this summer, but it's our understanding the South Carolina legislature has in fact voted to remove the flag from the dome." In South Carolina, a bill passed by the state senate last Thursday would take the flag off the Statehouse dome and out of the House and Senate chambers, but place a similar flag behind the Confederate Soldier Monument on the statehouse grounds. The NAACP, which organized a tourism boycott of the state, is among groups that regard the flag as a symbol of slavery. Flag supporters say it represents Southern heritage. "There will be no states excluded," Renfro said. "I don't think we are releasing exactly who we are sending the letter to, but I can tell you no school in South Carolina will be excluded because of the flag issue." South Carolina, ranked No. 1 this week by Baseball America, was last chosen in 1985 but has tried to upgrade its baseball facilities and has submitted bids for regionals the past two seasons, athletic director Mike McGee said. Clemson, ranked No. 9, was a regional host the past two years. Each of the Division I baseball committee's 10 members was assigned specific parts of the country and specific conferences. During Monday's meeting, conducted by telephone, the group went through each conference to consider which schools might be likely candidates to host one of 16 regionals on May 26-28 or super-regionals June 2-4. "I would say, conservatively, probably half of the 281 schools will get a mailing," baseball media coordinator Jim Wright said. "It's only April, and although in certain parts of the country teams have played a lot of games, but, say, the Big Ten, they probably haven't played more than 15 or 20 games, so it's pretty hard at this point to speculate where these teams are going to be in a month. "Once we've gone through the entire country, and through every regional, then our championship staff will then send out these mailings to those schools that have been noted in the discussion," he said. The letters were expected to be mailed later Monday or on Tuesday, Renfro said. "Then they send the questionnaire back in giving us some indication whether they're interested in hosting. Those come back in by April 28," Renfro said. "Generally we get about 30 or 40 that express interest, and for those we'll send out a detailed budget request." The 16 regional sites will be announced on May 15 and the eight super-regional sites will be announced May 29. The College World Series will be in Omaha, Neb., on June 9-17.