Brianna Jackson | Contributing Writer
While South Carolina’s state legislature approved to take down the Confederate flag from Capitol grounds, new doors have been opened for the University of South Carolina. On July 10, approximately 10 a.m., hundreds of people surrounded the state’s Capitol building to watch the flag-lowering ceremony. The patrol officers handed over the flag to one of the state’s two black Cabinet-level officials, Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith.
Back in 2000, the flag was discarded from the State House to the grounds. This agreement, however, wasn’t competent enough for the national NAACP, which caused a tourism boycott of the state in 1999 and continued through the flag’s removal. Later in 2001, the NAACP took up the cause stating that any pre-determined championships had to bypass South Carolina.
The boycott caused Columbia’s Colonial Life Arena and Greenville’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena to miss hosting some NCAA Tournament basketball games. Myrtle Beach also lost a three-year deal to host the ACC baseball tournament because of the controversy.
The NCAA wouldn’t constitute performance-based championship events and also, denied the state any consideration of bowl games and other postseason events.
University of South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner hoped that if the flag did come down, it would cease the boycott and USC could begin bidding on other postseason festivities. Over the last few days, Tanner’s dreams may be starting to come true as the flag came down and the NAACP ended their 15-year ban two days later.
“There have been some opportunities that have not been possible in the past that we would not get a chance to engage in,” said Tanner in a July 8th interview, “If the flag is removed and the sanctions are lifted. then we can bid for events, whether it’s a women’s regional championship or basketball for the men, the first or second rounds, and other events around the state.”
Although the flag coming down sparks small change, USC, or the state as a whole, likely won’t see a major athletic event anytime soon. Basketball regional sites are set through 2018 and baseball postseason tournaments have also been scheduled for the foreseeable future.
But the Gamecocks will be in position to secure events in the next decade, instead of watching NCAA tournaments in neighboring Georgia and North Carolina, who have enjoyed their share of events. The future’s looking bright for South Carolina and their collegiate athletic programs and it won’t be long before they start to reap the benefits denied to them for so many years.