Lane Kiffin, Mike Leach join in calls for Mississippi to remove Confederate emblem from state flag

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Lane Kiffin, Mike Leach join in calls for Mississippi to remove Confederate emblem from state flag

University of Mississippi football coach Lane Kiffin and Mississippi State coach Mike Leach joined several other officials in addressing the state

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University of Mississippi football coach Lane Kiffin and Mississippi State coach Mike Leach joined several other officials in addressing the state legislature on Thursday to call for the Confederate emblem to be removed from the state flag.

Kiffin told ESPN that the flag does not represent Ole Miss and by removing the emblem from Mississippi’s flag, they are creating a “more welcoming environment.”

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“We removed the flag from our campus five years ago, so we’ve made it clear that it doesn’t represent who we are at Ole Miss,” he said. “Today is another big step in doing our part to move the state forward and ensure a more welcoming environment for everyone. This is extremely important to me and to our players. Time to change!”

Leach told the outlet that the current flag doesn’t “elevate” the community.

“The purpose of a state flag is to create pride and enthusiasm amongst the citizens,” he said. “It should also create great energy to elevate the economy, education and athletics. The current flag doesn’t do that. We need a state flag that everyone is proud of.”

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Kiffin’s and Leach’s appeals comes just after the NCAA expanded its policy last week banning states with prominent Confederate symbols from hosting its sponsored events.

Mississippi is the only state currently affected by the policy. The expanded ban — supported by all eight public universities in the state — means that even when sites of NCAA events are determined by performance, as they are in baseball, women’s basketball and softball, Mississippi schools will not be permitted to host.

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“We must do all we can to ensure that NCAA actions reflect our commitment to inclusion and support all our student-athlete. There can be no place within college sports where any student-athlete is demeaned or unwelcome,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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