Mississippi coaches lobby for flag change

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When it comes to the Mississippi state flag, being on the right side of history is a very divisive topic, but one place everyone seems to agree is college athletics.

This morning, more than 50 athletic directors and coaches from the state’s eight public universities appeared at the Mississippi legislature to lobby for the removal of the Confederate emblem from the state flag.

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This coming just days after those eight schools released a joint statement defending the NCAA’s stance on the flag which includes a ban on all championship events in Mississippi until the flag is changed.

The SEC and Conference USA are also in agreement which means the loudest voices in the room are all saying the same thing.  Mississippi State Head Women’s Basketball Coach Nikki McCray-Penson said, “I know firsthand what it feels like to see a Confederate flag and pretend it doesn’t have a racist, violent or oppressive overtone. The ruling by the SEC and the NCAA affects us greatly. And we can’t be an elite program without hosting postseason events. Our entire student body could potentially be adversely affected by this symbol of hatred. It’s time to see positive change and have that symbol of hatred removed.”

Ole Miss Head Men’s Basketball Coach Kermit Davis said, “I have a daughter, Ally. She’s 32 years old. She has down syndrome, and Ally keeps us simplified and grounded all the time. And we were having this discussion at my house the other night. My wife and I and we were talking about social injustice and talking about the flag change. And Ally is sitting there, and she just looks at us and she says, Dad, do unto others as you would like for them to do to you. I said boy, that’s simple. But isn’t that perfect? I said that’s simple, but it’s perfect. Whether you’re talking about a flag change that’s good for everybody in our state, or we’re talking about any topic of social injustice.”

A change will require a two-thirds vote from the legislature which is in session until Friday.

Mississippi residents last voted to keep the flag back in 2001.

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A native of Pass Christian and a St. Stanislaus alum, Jeff Haeger comes to News 25 from right in our backyard. He most recently spent more than three years working as the sports reporter for WHLT-TV in Hattiesburg, where he provided extensive coverage of his alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi. At Southern Miss, Jeff was a member of the Honors College and graduated with a B.A. degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. He also wrote for USM's award-winning school newspaper, The Student Printz, where he won first place for Best Sports Story in 2013. Jeff loves to travel, and is excited to get back on the water to reunite with his family. In his spare time you can find Jeff spending time with his friends, and maybe even winning a fantasy football league. For sports stories contact Jeff at jhaeger@wxxv25.com.