Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill, the third-leading rusher in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) last year, vowed Monday not to play for the school anymore unless the state removes the Confederate ‘stars and bars’ from its flag.
Mississippi has the Confederate emblem as part of its state flag, the only state in the nation that features the controversial symbol.
Hill replied to a tweet Monday by Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, with the rising senior writing, ‘Either change the flag or I won’t be representing this State anymore. … I meant that .. I’m tired.
Reeves had written that he opposed a plan for the state to add a second flag.
The flag is no longer flown at Ole Miss or Mississippi State athletic events, due to its Confederate emblem.
Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach told the (Jackson, Mississippi) Clarion Ledger of Hill’s stand, ‘The biggest thing is that Kylin is entitled to his opinion just like everybody is. If Kylin chooses to express his opinion, I think he should if he wants to. I think he definitely should because all opinions on all issues should be heard.
‘I think that’s where we run into trouble in particular — the dialog isn’t quite what it should be. Not everybody is listening to one another, and I think we have to get to that point. I applaud Kylin’s right to express his opinion really on any subject.’
Several teammates supported Hill in his stance. Offensive lineup Brandon Cunningham tweeted a reply to Hill, writing, ‘I stand for that!’ Safety Marcus Murphy tweeted, ‘we from Ms… we gone stand for something but NOT fall for anything I’m wit ya 8’
Some fans were not supportive.
‘That’s our state flag we as in the people of Mississippi should be proud of our flag no matter what color we are,’ one wrote.
‘Go ahead and turn your back on a university and fans that’s have had your back from day 1,’ wrote another person, who is admittedly an Auburn Tigers fan. ‘The flag debate is out of control of the university. Be smarter.’
Reaction to Hill’s tweet was not entirely negative.
Seattle Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright, a Mississippi State alum, tweeted back to Hill, ‘You have my full support brotha! That flag represents hate, racism, oppression! It’s BEEN TIME for a change. There’s strength in numbers! We all have to be on board’
Some fans voiced their approval for Hill’s message as well.
‘There you GO!!!’ wrote on fan on Twitter. ‘If anyone in the south has power to make these politicians act, it is the football players. If the racists won’t let them do it, there are a lot of schools in states that do not fly that flag that would love to have you.’
Hill, a product of Columbus (Mississippi) High School, was selected first-team all-SEC by the Associated Press last season after amassing 1,350 yards and 10 touchdowns on 242 carries. He also caught 18 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.
The NCAA Board of Governors announced Friday that no NCAA championship event can be played in any state where the Confederate flag has a ‘prominent presence.’
The updated rule takes aim at Mississippi, which has the Confederate flag as part of its state flag.
Previously, the policy said the NCAA couldn’t award championship play to states that displayed the Confederate flag, but a team in such a state could host a championship game if it earned it through seeding or ranking.
Baseball, softball, lacrosse and women’s basketball teams could host NCAA play under the earlier policy.
The SEC, Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi made public pushes Thursday for the state to drop the Confederate symbol.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey issued a statement that indicated the league might ban its championship events from being held in the state barring a change in the flag. The NCAA’s action on Friday made that official.
‘There is no place in college athletics or the world for symbols or acts of discrimination and oppression,’ said Michael V. Drake, chairman of the NCAA board and president of Ohio State.
The NCAA enacted its initial flag policy in 2001.
‘Competing in an NCAA championship is a special experience for college athletes who compete at the highest level and we are grateful for the college athlete voice leading to this decision,’ said Mark Emmert, NCAA president.
‘We must do all we can to ensure that NCAA actions reflect our commitment to inclusion and support all our student-athletes. There can be no place within college sports where any student-athlete is demeaned or unwelcome.’
In the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police last month, various Confederate symbols have been taken down nationwide.
On June 10, NASCAR prohibited the Confederate flag from all events and properties.