Mississippi’s athletic directors, head coaches join forces in support of new state flag

Updated: Jun. 25, 2020 at 11:29 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Athletic directors and coaches from eight of Mississippi’s public universities are all taking a stand against the state flag.

They came together for a joint press conference days after the NCAA banned any championships from being held in the state of Mississippi while the current flag is in place.

Mississippi State women’s basketball head coach Nikki McCray says she knows what it’s like for people to pretend the Confederate flag does not have negative racial tones connected to it.

“We can’t be an elite program without hosting postseason events,” she said.

She says Mississippi State’s goals for inclusion and equality is hampered by the state flag. She calls it a symbol of hatred.

Ole Miss head men’s basketball coach Kermit Davis says his players want the quickest response possible, and he thinks a trip to visit the lawmakers is the quickest way they can make that happen.

Mike Leach, Mississippi State Football head coach said, “You know, I mean, why don’t you have a state flag to unify and excite the citizens of the state? To be a point of pride that brings everybody together? Right now our flag doesn’t do that and we need one that does.”

House Speaker Phillip Gunn thanked the coaches and athletic directors for appearing and speaking on the issue.

“This entire state is screaming for change..all the business leaders, religious leaders athletic directors are screaming for change,” Gunn said. “...the image of our state is at stake here. The nation is watching. They want to know what we stand for.”

Gunn says the NCAA ruling hurts Mississippi financially and in recruiting, but it’s a bigger issue than just athletics.

Attendees included:

Alcorn State University

  • Landon Bussie, Men’s Basketball Coach
  • Jimmy Joseph, Track and Cross Country Coach
  • Nathaniel Kilbert, Women’s Basketball Coach
  • Kevin Larry, Soccer Coach
  • Fred McNair, Football Coach
  • Darnesha Moore, Tennis Coach
  • Josef Rankin, Softball Coach
  • Bretton Richardson, Baseball Coach
  • Melissa Robinson, Volleyball Coach

Delta State University

  • Todd Cooley, Head Football Coach
  • Mike Kinnison, Director of Athletics
  • Mike Neinaber, Head Men’s Basketball Coach

Jackson State University

  • Wayne Brent, Head Men’s Basketball Coach
  • Dr. Ted Flogaites, Head Soccer Coach
  • John Hendrick, Head Football Coach
  • Gabrielle Moore, Head Tennis Coach
  • Kevin Montgomery, Head Softball Coach
  • Tomekia Reed, Head Women’s Basketball Coach
  • Ashley Robinson, Vice President & Director of Athletics
  • Mark Thorne, Head Cross Country/Track & Field Coach
  • Rose Washington, Head Volleyball Coach

Mississippi State University

  • John Cohen, Director of Athletics
  • Ben Howland, Head Men’s Basketball Coach
  • Mike Leach, Head Football Coach
  • Chris Lemonis, Head Baseball Coach
  • Nikki McCray-Penson, Head Women’s Basketball Coach
  • Samantha Ricketts, Head Softball Coach
  • Chris Woods, Head Track & Field Coach

Mississippi University for Women

  • Dedrick Burnett, Track and Field Coach
  • Brian Merkel, Men’s Basketball Coach
  • Daniel Talley, Tennis Coach
  • Morgan Turnipseed, Cross Country Coach

Mississippi Valley State University

  • Alonzo Banks, Head Track & Field/Cross Country Coach
  • Vincent Dancy, Head Football Coach
  • Franklyn Davies, Head Soccer Coach
  • Dianthia Ford-Kee, Director of Athletics
  • Lindsey Hunter, Head Men’s Basketball Coach
  • Riley Murry, Head Tennis Coach
  • Lee Smith, Associate Athletic Director/Head Softball Coach
  • Aaron Stevens, Head Baseball Coach
  • Ashley Walker-Johnson, Head Women’s Basketball Coach
  • Janay Yancey, Head Volleyball Coach

University of Mississippi

  • Mike Bianco, Head Baseball Coach
  • Keith Carter, Athletics Director
  • Kermit Davis, Head Men’s Basketball Coach
  • Lane Kiffin, Head Football Coach
  • Yolette McPhee-McCuin, Head Women’s Basketball Coach
  • Connie Price-Smith, Head Track & Field/Cross Country Coach

University of Southern Mississippi

  • Scott Berry, Head Baseball Coach
  • Jay Ladner, Head Men’s Basketball Coach
  • Joye Lee-McNellis, Head Women’s Basketball Coach
  • Jeff Mitchell, Deputy Director of Athletics

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