BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WTVA) -— The commissioner of the Southeastern Conference told the state of Mississippi Thursday the Confederate stars and bars should come off its flag and made a threat if a change is not made.
"It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi," Commissioner Greg Sankey wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. "Our students deserve an opportunity to learn and compete in environments that are inclusive and welcoming to all."
Sankey added that the SEC will consider moving conference championships out of the state until the flag is changed.
The threat is more of a symbolic one since the conference does not hold championships for its major sports — football, basketball and baseball — in Mississippi.
Mississippi State and Ole Miss are members of the SEC.
MSU President Mark Keenum said in a statement he understood Sankey's position and again expressed support for changing the state flag.
"On June 12, I wrote to the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the Mississippi House reaffirming that support," said Keenum. "The letter said, in part, that our flag should be unifying, not a symbol that divides us. I emphasized that it is time for a renewed, respectful debate on this issue."
Ole Miss issued a joint statement by Chancellor Glenn Boyce and Athletics Director Keith Carter also in support of the commissioner's position.
"Mississippi needs a flag that represents the qualities about our state that unite us, not those that still divide us," said Boyce and Carter.