/NCAA may shut out Mississippi

NCAA may shut out Mississippi

Because of the law on “religious freedom”, signed by Gov. Phil Bryant, the NCAA may decide to keep all its events in Mississippi. Phil Bryant signed the “religious freedom” law earlier in the year. The NCAA regulatory agency for collegiate athletics has been keeping many events from Mississippi due to its state flag. It said Wednesday that it would closely examine whether to keep NCAA events out of any states that have passed legislation that “allows residents to refuse services to some people based upon their sexual orientation/gender identity”. Kirk Schulz, the president of Kansas State University, and chair of NCAA Board of Governors, stated in a Wednesday video. “It is important that we weigh in on these matters and ensure our Division I, Division II and Division III athletes have championship experience among the best.” Bryant signed House Bill1523 on April 5. This bill allows circuit court clerks, and business owners, to refuse service to married couples with same sexual orientations based on their religious beliefs. Numerous national corporations, associations, and other entities doing business in the state have been critical of the law. Individual universities must submit bids for NCAA approval before they can host postseason competitions in softball, baseball and tennis. The NCAA has adopted new rules that would allow universities to discuss how they can provide a welcoming environment for both players and fans. Three Mississippi baseball teams, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, and Mississippi State are being considered for hosting postseason tournaments. All three universities have issued statements confirming their commitment to diversity since the law was passed earlier in the year. Sid Salter (MSU chief communications officer) says that Mississippi State should not comment on the issue until the university has had time to evaluate the NCAA’s actions. “But our university has already reaffirmed our commitment to MSU’s core values, diversity, inclusion, and non-discrimination,” Jack Duggan (USM assistant athletic director for media relations) said that he didn’t know of any plans to issue a statement. Ole Miss officials in the athletic department did not respond to emails and calls for comment. Mississippi State hosted a Starkville women’s NCAA basketball tournament in March. All three Mississippi Division I schools have hosted postseason tournaments in the last three years. According to NCAA, the rules change could also impact decisions to host NCAA-sponsored non-athletic activities in Mississippi. This includes educational events and leadership development conferences. Schulz stated that the higher education community is made up of people from diverse racial and religious backgrounds. Schulz stated that the statement was important to ensure that all members of the community, including student-athletes and their fans, enjoy the NCAA championships without discrimination. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of all Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think.