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College Sports and the Confederate Flag

Recently, Paul Westerdawg reported that the presence of the Confederate battle flag on the South Carolina Capitol grounds once again had become a source of controversy with the N.C.A.A.

While I consider this asinine and yet another instance of the N.C.A.A.'s preposterous devotion to political correctness, I wanted to be able to address this issue in a rational, intelligent manner using the historical reality rather than the hysterical rhetoric to which we have become accustomed.

Fortunately, Dr. Jeffery J. Rogers was willing to be interviewed for Dawg Sports.

Dr. Rogers is an assistant professor of history at Gordon College in Barnesville, Ga. He earned a baccalaureate degree from the University of Georgia in 1995. During his days as a student in Athens, Dr. Rogers served as president of the Phi Kappa Literary Society, a student debating organization founded in 1820. The Society awarded Dr. Rogers its highest honor, the Speaker Key, following his graduation.

Phi Kappa Hall.

Dr. Rogers attended graduate school at the University of South Carolina, from which he received a master of arts degree in 1998 and a doctor of philosophy degree in 2004. During the time he spent pursuing his studies there, he found himself in Columbia while the prior dispute over the Confederate battle flag was taking place.

Dr. Rogers studied under the eminent Southern historian Dr. Clyde Wilson, who edited the John C. Calhoun papers and served as the major professor for Dr. Rogers's dissertation. Dr. Rogers's scholarship includes extensive research and writing about the 19th-century literary and political giant William Gilmore Simms.

On a personal note, I should add that Jeff Rogers and I have been friends for more than a dozen years. He was a groomsman in my wedding and, a decade ago, I went traipsing through the Carolina underbrush with him in a successful search for William Gilmore Simms's historic plantation house, which remains a sight to see, even all these years later. Despite holding degrees from two S.E.C. East institutions, Jeff remains a devoted Bulldog fan.

What follows are my questions and Dr. Rogers's answers. The words are his; the photographs and captions incorporated to illustrate the text are mine.

Dawg Sports: When did South Carolina begin flying the Confederate battle flag over the Capitol and why did the state begin doing so?

Dr. Rogers: The state of South Carolina began flying the Confederate flag from atop the State House dome in 1961. It flew beneath the United States and South Carolina flags.

Of course, the flag actually flown was the Confederate naval jack which is rectangular and most commonly, although somewhat mistakenly, referred to as the Confederate Battle Flag. Flags actually used by Confederate troops in battle tended to be square, although there was considerable diversity in configuration and design. Still, the predominant motif was that of a red, square flag with the familiar blue "X" configuration containing 13 stars.

Also, the Battle Flag is sometimes referred to as "the Stars and Bars." This is completely inaccurate as that flag was the first national flag of the Confederacy and featured three horizontal bars with a field of seven stars. It is also sometimes referred to as "the St. Andrew's Cross" as its inspiration was the flag of Scotland.

The reason South Carolina began flying the flag is part of the controversy. Flag opponents contend that it was in reaction to the Civil Rights movement. Flag supporters point to the Civil War Centennial which officially began the day the flag was raised, April 11, 1961. The resolution which authorized the flying of the flag was introduced by Rep. John A. May of Aiken and according to interviews with those around state government at the time he intended for it to fly during the following year or to the end of the Centennial in 1965.

There are conflicting recollections about this. However, the resolution contained no specific date on which the flag would be removed. By the time the resolution passed on March 16, 1962 the flag had been flying for nearly a year and there it remained for almost 40 years. One legislator at the time remarked years later that, "We did it to celebrate, not divide the state."

The last surviving member of the state's official Confederate War Centennial Commission has said he does not recall any racist or political overtones within the commission regarding the hoisting of the flag. Opponents, however, point out that this was during the era of segregation and that if black South Carolinians had any objections they lacked any effective means of voicing them. This is certainly true, but it seems clear enough that the motive behind the resolution to fly the flag was to commemorate the beginning of the Civil War in Charleston Harbor. The Civil War Centennial really captured the popular imagination of South Carolina, and indeed America, at the time.

The firing on Fort Sumter. (Photograph from Civil War Home.)

(Interesting aside: When Clemson won the national championship in 1981 a Clemson flag temporarily joined the other flags on the State House dome. With the University of South Carolina campus a mere block away from the State House in Columbia one can only imagine what U.S.C. students and fans thought of that flag flying.)

Dawg Sports: States such as Georgia and Mississippi incorporated the St. Andrew's Cross into their state flags, whereas South Carolina left its official symbol unchanged and flew the Confederate emblem separately. What significance, if any, should be attached to this fact?

Dr. Rogers: South Carolinians are passionately attached to their state flag which is replete with Revolutionary War and Civil War symbolism. Spend a modest amount of time in the state and you will see the flag everywhere, not simply flying outside public buildings. People fly it from their homes, put bumper stickers of it on their cars, wear it on shirts, belts, and every other kind of fashion accessory. There are even U.S.C., Clemson, and Furman versions of the flag which use the respective schools' colors, and I am sure there are other variations of which I am not aware. The "Palmetto Flag" is practically ubiquitous and is as commonly seen, if not more so, than the U.S. and Confederate flags.

The flag is distinctive and striking, being consistently considered one of the most attractive of the 50 state flags. It was voted 10th most attractive by the American Vexilliological Association in 2001. South Carolinians, especially natives, have a strong sense of state identity in addition to their identification as Americans and Southerners. This was certainly true in the antebellum era. It is considerably weaker today, but still there. South Carolinians love their flag. I don't think anyone would have entertained the thought of changing the state flag under any circumstances, even if it was to incorporate the Confederate flag.

The South Carolina state flag.

Dawg Sports: The decision to take down the battle flag from above the state capitol was part of a larger political compromise. What were the terms of this agreement, when was it made, and which parties were involved in reaching this negotiated resolution?

Dr. Rogers: The chain of events which resulted in the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House dome is longer and more complex than many outside the state realize.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s some legislators floated proposals to remove the flag, but these died quietly. Flag opponents began a serious effort to remove the flag in 1993. In 1994 the state Senate passed something known as "the Heritage Act." In addition to doing other things such as protecting Confederate monuments, this act would have moved the flag to another location on the State House grounds.

Backers of this particular "compromise" included major legislative players in the flag controversy as it would play out in the South Carolina legislature. Sen. Robert Ford, an African-American Democrat from Charleston who had campaigned on a platform of removing the flag; Sen. Kay Patterson, Chair of the Black Caucus; and Sen. Glenn McConnell, a Charleston Republican, worked together to gain support for the compromise and pass it in the Senate.

McConnell's support is particularly interesting. Long known for his affection for Confederate history, McConnell is a highly influential Senator who is also a Civil War re-enactor and owns an art gallery which specializes in Civil War memorabilia and books. He is also the current chairman of the Hunley Commission, which oversees the Preservation of the C.S.S. Hunley submarine. The Act, however, failed to pass the House.

The C.S.S. Hunley.

The issue was, of course, not dead. By 1996, debate over the flag was fairly constant in the state, although it was not always heated. South Carolina did not "seethe" with tension as some journalists were wont to say in often hyperbolic and clichéd articles and television reports.

Then, Republican Governor David Beasley, who had proclaimed his support for the flag as a candidate, gave a dramatic speech from the Governor's Mansion which was carried live on state-wide television and even C-SPAN. After "praying and reading the Bible," Beasley had changed his mind and now supported moving the flag next to the Confederate Soldier Monument on the State House grounds in the interest of improving race relations in the state.

Cynical observers of South Carolina politics remarked that Beasley had his eye on the U.S. Senate or even higher and that resolving the Confederate flag issue might look good on his resume when seeking national office. This ramped the debate up another notch. (Beasley did, of course, run for the U.S. Senate in the Republican primary but was defeated by Sen. Jim DeMint in a run-off in 2004.)

Through all of this three distinct positions had emerged. The first was to keep the flag flying, to maintain the status quo. The second was to simply remove the flag. The third was compromise. But, what would be the terms of the compromise?

Flag supporters who most adamantly opposed removing the flag argued that the flag was an honorable symbol of Southern history and heritage, a symbol of the valor and courage of the Confederate soldier. After all, it was the Confederate "Battle Flag." Lowering the flag, especially under the circumstances, would give credence to the perception that the flag was a symbol of racism and evil. It would, in essence, be an agreement with the flag's critics.

Moreover, it would only be the beginning. Even compromise would not satisfy those who sought to remove the flag. In 1991, the N.A.A.C.P. passed a resolution which described the Confederate flag as "an odious blight upon the universe." What does one do with an "odious blight" but to wipe it out?

Next would come Confederate monuments and historical markers. Soon, the flag itself could be outlawed. If the Confederacy was analogous to Nazi Germany, as many flag opponents claimed, why not outlaw it? In Germany today, public display of the Nazi flag is illegal. Would public commemoration and admiration of the Confederate South by Southerners with Confederate ancestors be allowed in the future? Removing the flag was simply the first step.

What many non-Southerners and others who oppose the display of the Confederate flag seem to misunderstand about those who do so is that, for flag supporters (or those for whom the flag has positive meaning), it is not about any particular ideology. It is about identity. This is not to deny that some "like" the flag and fly it because they see is as some kind of symbol for "white power." A careful reading of American and Southern history should lead such individuals to a reconsideration.

One can certainly argue that the antebellum South was a racist society. It, along with the antebellum North, and the rest of Western Civilization in the 19th Century, was profoundly racist by contemporary standards. One can also argue that slavery was a root cause of the Civil War. But, why would you chose as a symbol of "white power" a flag flown by an army which included, in addition to white Southerners, Hispanics from Texas, Native Americans from Oklahoma, and Jews. Moreover, it was the flag of an army which lost a war in which it fought and killed thousands of white men in the Union army. Surely a better symbol of "white power" could be found.

Others who view the flag in ideological terms probably see it as a generic symbol for "states' rights," "limited government," and, more or less, giving the finger to "Big Government." That may or may not be a valid interpretation, but for most Southerners who love and fly the Confederate flag it is, at its deepest point, a representation of who they believe they are.

It is a connection to their past. It is the flag their family members fought and died under, and when they hear criticism of it what they hear is that they and their families and neighbors are somehow despicable human beings. They are very familiar with all the negative stereotypes and characterizations of Southerners as ignorant, backward, knuckle-dragging, dirt-eating, racist hicks. Flag critics seem to believe that by making such statements, or at least insinuating them in more moderate language, they will somehow shame people or convince them to change their mind about the flag.

This is a failure to understand basic human nature. The flag is a symbol of dignity to flag supporters because it is a reminder to them that, regardless of present circumstance or how others think of them, once their ancestors struck out on their own, took up arms and fought for a cause they see as basically good and in keeping with American tradition; freedom and independence. They feel a connection to that spirit when they see the flag. Changing someone's ideas is one thing. Attacking their identity is something else. This is why emotions have been so intense among flag supporters.

Adding to this is the fact that the South has changed dramatically in the last fifty years. Race relations have profoundly changed, of course, and flag critics point to this as a source for the motivation of flag supporters. The flag is a nostalgic reminder of some vaguely defined "good old days."

Those days, of course, were ones in which black Southerners experienced segregation and discrimination. Flag supporters "like" the flag because it reminds them of a time in which blacks "knew their place." However, the South has changed just as dramatically in other ways as well over the last half-century.

It was not so long ago when the vast majority of Southerners lived and worked on the land or called small towns and communities home. Today, finding a real farmer in the South is about as difficult as finding a four leaf clover and most live in suburbs which look a lot like suburbs everywhere else in the country. They shop at the same stores and see the same movies and television as people in Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. This change has been disquieting to many Southerners who can remember or know someone who can remember that rural past, especially family members.

The sense of alienation that has come with modern American life is a perpetual topic of academic sociology, but a case can be made that the controversy over the Confederate flag which has flared up throughout the region during the past 20 years is a distinctively Southern variant of this larger phenomenon. In this case, the flag is a nostalgic reminder, not of slavery or segregation, but of a time when one knew their neighbors and could leave their front door unlocked, when the landscape consisted of crops and forests, not track housing and strip malls. Listening to flag supporters one often hears a subtle lament for the loss of this world. By retaining the flag, which they see as embodying its values, something good of that South can be saved.

The Confederate Soldier Monument in Columbia, S.C. (Photograph from Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)

Generally, flag opponents counter that it symbolizes the "Old South," which they associate with the Confederacy and its negative connotations of slavery, white supremacy, and treason. For historians, "Old South" has a specific meaning: the South before 1861.

In the course of the various "flag flaps" which have flared up over recent years, journalists and flag critics have sometimes used the term to refer simply to the South before the Civil Rights Movement. Sometimes, it seems, it is applied to anywhere flag supporters are, usually places outside the major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta or Charlotte.

This is as interesting as it is revealing. Flag opponents often talk of opposing an "Old South mentality," which refuses to accept the consequences of the sweeping changes brought about by Civil Rights.

For flag opponents, especially black Southerners who oppose the flag, the debate is also about identity. Instead of affirming something ennobling and virtuous, however, it says to them that once your ancestors were slaves, considered "less than human." The past is something that pulls them back into that darkness and any reminder of it which represents that past in even a dimly positive light denies them some essential element of their humanity in that it tolerates, accepts, or, worse, asserts, the dehumanizing features of slavery and segregation. This is why the flag has to be removed, and why those who support flying the flag and admire the Confederacy are suspect.

It must be noted that not all flag opponents argued against the flag in this way during the flag controversy in South Carolina. In fact, flag opponents were not united in the way they argued against the continued flying of the flag. Various arguments were used, in addition to what might be called the "ethical" one sketched above. That argument was essentially that flying the flag was wrong. Take it down.

A very important component of the anti-flag coalition, though---one which is often overlooked when those outside the state talk about or think about the flag controversy in South Carolina---was the business community. The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the Palmetto Business Forum were early and powerful advocates for removing the flag.

The popular conception of the dynamics of the controversy was that it was elite, "old boy network" whites who were stubbornly refusing to remove a flag offensive to black South Carolinians. The reality was more complex than this. Flag supporters commented on this at the time, that "Big Money" corporate leaders were against the flag and in this implied outside influence in the debate, but journalists and commentators, like people generally, abhor complexity and prefer simple stories with good guys and bad guys and recognizable story arcs.

The reason for business opposition was obvious and unhidden. The controversy hurt the state's image and that impacted business. Flag supporters condemned this as selling out one's heritage for mammon, but business is business and all about mammon.

Governor David Beasley.

While they probably held the "ethical" argument to heart, Flag opponents, especially those in the legislature, began to articulate a less abstract argument against the flag. Regardless of how one felt about the flag and Confederate history, it currently flew in a position of sovereignty. Only flags of sovereign entities should fly from the flagpole atop the State House. The Confederacy no longer existed and so the flag should come down.

It was an argument which carried a lot of weight for people sitting on the fence. It also divided the anti-flag coalition and opened a way for compromise, which, it must be noted, had been in the air since the beginning.

Beasley's dramatic gesture fell flat. The controversy had stiffened opposition to removing the flag. Republican legislators, who controlled both the House and Senate, had been hearing from their constituents who opposed any removal. Some put forth the idea of a referendum, but it went nowhere.

For Beasley, the flag probably ended his political career. Though some are loath to admit it, Beasley lost his reelection bid in 1998 to Democrat Jim Hodges in large part because of his stance on the flag. This was the high tide of the pro-flag movement. The flag had withstood two concerted efforts to remove it and supporters felt confident it would remain indefinitely.

In 1999, however, the N.A.A.C.P. announced its boycott of the state. This sent shivers down the spines of South Carolina business leaders as it threatened tourism, conventions, and investment. Others argued it was a paper tiger with no real power to hurt the economy. There were, however, some convention cancellations and it did spark the next push to remove the flag.

Business leaders, especially from the state's larger corporations like SCANA, began to put real pressure on Republican lawmakers to come up with some kind of compromise. The new pressure from business drew the attention of Sen. Kay Patterson, who said, "When you start messing with white folks' money, you get their attention!"

At this point, Gov. Hodges entered the fray. As a candidate, he had said he would not act upon the flag issue unless prompted to do so by the legislature, but during a speech to the Columbia Urban League he asked the N.A.A.C.P. to end the boycott and that he would urge the two sides to come together using the 1994 Heritage Act as a template. He also said he would work for the passage of a Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday as a part of the process. Business leaders were happy, but many civil rights leaders were not. The N.A.A.C.P. refused to end the boycott.

Governor Jim Hodges. (Photograph from C.N.N.)

In his January 2000 State of the State Address, Hodges again urged that the flag come down, but not in response to the N.A.A.C.P. boycott. Instead, he voiced the sovereignty argument. During that winter, both flag supporters and flag opponents held rallies at the State House.

As one would expect, there were disputes over numbers, but the official estimates were 6,000 for the pro-flag rally and 46,000 for the anti-flag rally. A great deal was made of the disparity between the two. While the media focused on the numbers, they did little investigation as to the logistics of the rallies. Many of the anti-flag rally participants arrived in buses chartered out of state. Both rallies contained people from outside South Carolina, but, more than anything, the disparity between the two reflected the financial muscle which was now backing the opponents of the flag.

This was the peak of the controversy and, as increasing pressure began to be applied to the state, the tide began to shift toward a compromise. But, as always, the question was what the details of the compromise would be. That is, after all, where the Devil lives.

Positions had hardened somewhat since 1994 and it took a lot of hand-squeezing and back-room discussions to change the positions of members of the legislature. Glenn McConnell, who had become adamant against removing the flag after the failure of the Heritage Act, joined with another flag supporter in the Senate, John Courson, to enter negotiations as to moving the flag to another location on the grounds of the State House.

The question soon became, if the flag is to be removed where would it go and in what form would it be represented? Simply taking the flag down was a non-starter. McConnell's plan was to place the flag next to the Confederate Soldier Monument at the front of the State House.

This was rejected by leading black legislators such as Kay Patterson and the N.A.A.C.P. Hodges proposed that the flag be moved to the General Wade Hampton memorial at the rear of the State House. Hampton was probably South Carolina's most famous Confederate general and served as governor of the state after the war. Some black legislators supported the plan. The business community supported it. Lou Holtz even appeared with the governor and spoke in favor of it. The N.A.A.C.P., however, did not support it.

From March to May of 2000, proposals, plans, and strong words flew around the South Carolina State House. In the midst of the debate about the flag, the House debated the creation of an M.L.K. holiday. A rider stating that the Confederate flag was a symbol of heritage was attached to the bill. This killed it for the moment. Eventually, the House did pass a bill creating official M.L.K. and Confederate Memorial Day holidays. It passed the Senate also and became law.

One of the proposals was for a Confederate flag to be encased in glass and placed at the Confederate Soldier Monument. McConnell rejected this calling it "entombment." Others called for a display of "historical" flags at various points on the State House grounds.

At this point in the debate, Sen. Tommy Moore, a supporter of compromise and the current Democratic candidate for governor, stepped forward and told McConnell that there were enough votes for removing the flag and placing one on a 20-foot pole at the rear of the Confederate Soldier Monument if other concessions were made. These included removing the Confederate flags which had hung in the House and Senate chambers since well before 1961. The compromise package was drafted and put to a vote in the Senate on April 12, 2000.

The debate in the South Carolina Senate was a remarkable event. Seldom in politics today do we get a sense from our elected officials that they truly care about the issues they decide. Either reading from cue cards or standing before poster-boards filled with graphs and charts, they seem to speak only talking points and do so in boring monotone.

This was not the case that day. The debate was passionate and heartfelt, with several senators openly crying and choking up when speaking from the floor. The debate was carried live on South Carolina public radio and the Senate gallery was packed.

Among the most interesting speakers was McConnell, the flag's leading supporter in the legislature, who was now in the position of trying to convince other flag supporters to go along with the compromise. "It is difficult, extremely difficult for us to move that flag," McConnell said. "It has to be just as difficult for those on the other side to vote with us to move it to the monument."

Senator Glenn McConnell. (Photograph from C.N.N.)

In the end, the compromise passed 36-7, with the "nays" all being Republicans. Every Democrat voted for the compromise, and every African-American in the Senate voted for the compromise, including Sen. Darrell Jackson, who had been one of the flag's oldest and strongest critics.

The sponsor of the bill was Sen. Robert Ford, who said upon its passage, "It's a great day for South Carolina. The N.A.A.C.P. should claim a victory because they brought us to this point."

The measure now moved to the House, where it ran into trouble. Many House members opposed the compromise because they didn't want the flag removed or because they believed the compromise plan still left the flag in too prominent a position on the State House grounds.

A head count found it lacked the votes to pass. Immediately, legislators began to propose competing plans. The one that made it to the surface for serious consideration would have removed the flag and placed a bronze Confederate flag plaque at the Confederate Soldier Monument. The N.A.A.C.P. said nothing about this proposal, but leading black legislator and House Minority Leader Gilda Cobb Hunter said at the time that N.A.A.C.P. approval was not required.

When put to a vote, both the Senate plan and the "bronze flag" plan went down to defeat. More hand-squeezing and back-room discussions ensued. The lines between flag supporters and flag opponents in the House were much sharper. Clearly, House members were representing their narrower constituencies more forcefully than their colleagues on the other side of the building.

They more than likely shared their constituents' views on the issue, as well. The vast majority of black Democratic House members refused to vote for a bill that placed the flag in so prominent a place. Close to 40 Republican members did not want the flag removed from the dome at all. Was there a middle ground?

A new bill was introduced in the House, which had the full backing of Speaker David Wilkins, the current U.S. Ambassador to Canada. The only difference between this bill and the Senate bill was that the flagpole at the monument would be 30 feet instead of 20 feet and there would be lighting.

Ambassador David Wilkins. (Photograph from C.B.C. News.)

It passed by a vote of 63-56. Only three black House members voted for the compromise. Interestingly, flag opponents worked with flag supporters in the House to kill the compromise but came up short.

Now attention shifted back to the Senate. Some wanted to tinker with the bill some more. In a House-Senate Conference Committee, the flagpole was first lowered to 25 feet---a compromise within a compromise---then restored to 30 feet, with the removal of the sanctions against desecration of the Confederate flag which were included in the original Senate package.

Sen. Darrell Jackson, who served on the conference committee, said afterward, "It was a matter of, was I willing to go home with nothing, or would 5 feet separate us from having a deal or not having a deal." This compromise package was able to pass through both House and Senate. A compromise which removed the Confederate flag from the State House dome and placed a smaller version on a flagpole next to the Confederate Soldier Monument had been reached. Gov. Hodges signed into law the bill which set July 1, 2000, as the day the flag would be removed.

The ceremony to remove the flag and raise the square battle flag at the monument was covered live on state-wide television, C-SPAN, and the major news networks. A few thousand protestors from both sides were on hand and were divided by State Troopers as they shouted insults at each other. Citadel Cadets removed the flag from the dome as Confederate re-enactors raised the flag at the monument.

Almost no one was completely satisfied with the arrangement. In almost every respect, however, it was the classic definition of a compromise. The flag was removed from a position of "sovereignty," which had become the loudest complaint of flag opponents. Another Confederate flag, the Battle Flag, was placed in a position of "honor" next to the Confederate Soldier Monument. Assuring the honorable display of the flag at the State House was the greatest concern for flag supporters.

Polls taken since the compromise show a majority of South Carolinians, both black and white, are happy the controversy is over and accept the compromise as it is. The issue is over and they want to "move on."

Not everyone feels this way, however. The N.A.A.C.P. refused to accept the compromise because the organization believed it left the flag in too prominent a position. The Confederate Soldier Monument is at the very front of the State House at the intersection of Main Street and Gervais . . . "the most prominent intersection in the state," as some called it. Its boycott is still in effect, although most people seem to have forgotten about it.

South Carolinians are not eager to see the issue revived and it is hard to see how, politically, it could be. In fact, the compromise legislation requires two-thirds of both chambers to approve any future changes. As Sen. McConnell has said, "It makes it impossible to ever move that flag." Only the future will prove or disprove that.

Dawg Sports: As you mentioned, the argument has been made that, since the Confederacy ceased to exist in 1865, flying a Confederate flag over the South Carolina Capitol makes no more sense than flying the British flag there . . . after all, the Palmetto State is no longer under that government. Does it make any difference that the battle flag was never an official emblem of the Confederate government? Does the removal of the flag from above the Capitol to a spot on the capitol grounds indicate that the authorities' intention was more historical than racial?

Dr. Rogers: I think those who supported the compromise would certainly say it was historical and honorary. I would disagree that the Confederate Battle Flag was never an official emblem of the Confederacy, however. Although the Confederate government never officially adopted the Battle Flag, as such, it did incorporate the design into the second national and third national flags.

Dawg Sports: Finally, is it appropriate for the N.C.A.A. to involve itself in such questions as Indian mascots and Confederate emblems? Should South Carolina remove the battle flag in order to get back into the N.C.A.A.'s good graces?

Dr. Rogers: Personally, I do not believe the N.C.A.A. should involve itself in such questions. There are plenty of important issues over which the N.C.A.A. has real, effective influence which need attention, such as student athlete graduation rates. That is its proper sphere and, barring the successful resolution of the many problems facing collegiate athletics, it should concern itself completely with solving them.

N.C.A.A. president Myles Brand.

These are political and cultural issues which evoke strong emotions on all sides. They should be resolved in the manner most appropriate to those kinds of questions: the give and take of the democratic process. The N.C.A.A. is not, broadly speaking, a democratic institution and should show respect and deference to those which are when they deal with these issues.

South Carolinians should remove the Confederate flag if they believe it is right and proper to do so, not because the N.C.A.A. demands that they do. Besides, if the N.C.A.A. can't devise a B.C.S. formula to everyone's satisfaction, how do they expect to resolve the country's most bedeviling social problems?

My thanks go out to Jeff Rogers for taking the time to address this issue so thoroughly. I hope my readers have found his answers as edifying as I have.

Go 'Dawgs!