Confederate Flag Near South Carolina Tournament Arena Prompts NCAA Statement
by 19 March 2017, 6:08 PM
The NCAA has released a statement in response to a small group of protestors from the South Carolina Secessionist Party raising a large Confederate flag near the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville on Sunday.
The flag was mounted on a large pole and flown on top of a parking garage next to the arena, where the final games of the second round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament are occurring today.
The NCAA senior vice president of basketball, Dan Gavitt, released a statement to ESPN addressing the flag’s presence in Greenville.
“The NCAA is proud and excited to host championships in the state of South Carolina once again. We are committed to assuring that our events are safe and accessible to all. No symbols that compromise that commitment will be permitted to be displayed on venue property that the tournament controls. Freedom of speech activities on public property in areas surrounding the arena are managed by the city of Greenville and we are supportive of the city’s efforts.”
In 2015, the NCAA lifted a boycott of playing tournaments in South Carolina after the Confederate flag was removed from the state house grounds. During the boycott, the NCAA would reject all of the state’s bids to host tournaments until the flag was removed.
Greenville police Chief Ken Miller said the group called to see if they needed a permit to fly the flag; they were told that they did not. Therefore, according to Miller, they are not breaking any laws.
The chief said his priority is everyone’s safety during the event. He had the group move the flag farther from the edge of the parking deck due to concerns about the potential for the pole to break, which could be hazardous for people walking on the sidewalk next to the parking deck.