In 1997, controversy surrounding the Confederate battle flag being flown at the University of Mississippi football games led to the banning of sticks inside Vaught Hemingway Stadium. This was at a time when the controversy surrounding the Confederate battle flag, and what it represents, was just coming to national prominence.
At the time, many alumni and other spectators at the stadium complied with the request of University of Mississippi administration to not bring the flag on campus, including the stadium. One group of spectators remained defiant, which led to University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat instituting the ban on sticks to get the flag out of the stadium, and that was the students.
Since this controversy, the University of Mississippi has gone on to change its mascot from Colonel Reb to a bear and institute more American flag-themed imagery surrounding the sports programs. However the nickname for the sporting teams that compete in collegiate athletics for the University of Mississippi remains the Rebels, a name picked to honor The memory of an Ole Miss football team that enlisted in the Confederate army and went and fought in the Civil War and died.
Former collegiate football coach and current candidate for the US Senate from Alabama, Tommy Tuberville, was the head coach at Ole Miss at the time. From news articles at the time, coach Tuberville is quoted as saying, “We can’t recruit against that flag.” and from media accounts at the time said publicly during press conferences that the team and the school were trying to educate students on what could help the university and the football team recruit better players.
As we get into the heart of the primary campaign season, other candidates and their campaigns will try and pressure Tommy Tuberville about his position on the Confederate flag, especially considering that sentiments about the Confederacy run deep in state, including the fact that there is a statewide law prohibiting the destruction or removal of Confederate monuments in the state.