Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is in favor of changing Mississippi’s state flag.
Mississippi’s flag features a Confederate flag in the upper left-hand corner and has resulted in the NCAA banning the state from hosting championship events.
Here’s what he said at the SEC Media Days on Thursday:
“In the late ’90s, our school made a move in a direction away from the flag. So our school has kind of made up its mind of where it’s at. I’m a Mississippian. No one understands the pride of the people of that state and the heritage of that state any better than I do. While I’m not a political figure, that symbol has been hijacked somewhat by groups that have meant ill will toward other people. I think it’s time that we move in a different direction with the state flag. We could get into the name of the Rebels and everything, and if that’s something that is troublesome to others, I’m sure that we would address that. I haven’t heard that.
“I’m not a political figure, nor do I want to be. I’m sure our Governor and the legislation will hear from the people. But in the world to which I live in, if something that is creating ill will in any way towards someone, it’s difficult for me to support that. As far as comparing what the original meaning meant, I’m going to have to go study some and make sure I’m speaking out of knowledge as opposed to — I know the people that I grew up around, I did not see them using it in ill will toward anyone — but obviously, I was raised at a much later date. I do think that it’s been associated with people that have meant some harm and ill will.”
Freeze grew up in Mississippi. The school also had a long tradition where fans waved Confederate flags at sporting events, which was banned in 1997.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen didn’t take a stand on the issue on Wednesday, saying: “I don’t see it very often. We don’t have it on our campus.”
“We’re the most diverse campus in the Southeastern Conference. I know the university embraces that diversity as a whole. I certainly embrace that diversity. We’re so diverse they have a Yankee as a head football coach in the Southeastern Conference.
“It’s something that, on a national level, is getting an awful lot of attention right now. People are really looking into how we can make things better in the state of Mississippi. I hope, as a university, we’re out on the forefront trying to make things better with the type of school we have and the diversity we have in our school.”South Carolina was also banned from hosting NCAA championship events in 2001, but that was lifted when the state removed a Confederate flag from its Statehouse grounds on July 10.