The “No Pledge, No Play” pledge from College of the Ozarks means no tournament for the school.
The NAIA announced Friday that it was moving its Division II Men’s Basketball Championship to a new location, to be determined.
The college issued its own statement saying it requested the NAIA move the tournament.
“The NAIA respects the rights of all of our members to determine the best course of action for their teams in regards to the national anthem,” NAIA president Jim Carr said in a release issued Friday afternoon. “However, our first priority is providing student-athletes the best event possible and neither the NAIA nor the College of the Ozarks wants this issue to disrupt the competition or diminish the student-athlete experience.”
Last month, College of the Ozarks, located in Point Lookout, Mo., announced it had revised its contracts in competitions in all sports to reflect its pledge to support the national anthem at sporting events.
Not only will athletes and coaches at College of the Ozarks stand for the Star-Spangled Banner, the opponent will as well, said school president Jerry C. Davis.
“We want to make it clear that we are not going to participate in a game where we think disrespect for the national anthem or the flag is being displayed,” Davis told The Star. “I don’t think it’s a partisan issue. It’s an American issue, how we feel about our country.”
The NAIA said it encourages everyone to stand for the national anthem, but stopped short of making it a requirement.
From the NAIA’s statement:
“The NAIA also understands that the freedom of speech — and the right to peaceful protest — are indisputable rights in the United States. Because the NAIA is made up of 250 diverse schools, the association believes it is in the best interest of the institutions to let them individually decide what actions are acceptable for their coaches and student-athletes.”
Davis said the school and NAIA officials met to discuss the policy and to hold a forum with coaches and players of participating schools to discuss the issue. But the requirement for teams to stand for the anthem wasn’t going to change.
“The NAIA missed the opportunity to take a stand,” Davis said. “They refused to craft a simple policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem. The NAIA’s refusal demonstrates a lack of moral clarity on a significant national issue. Their decision contradicts their own character emphasis that identifies respect as a key trait, and we believe they are missing a golden opportunity to teach student-athletes about the honor due our country and its veterans.
“We appreciate the efforts of the staff to communicate our concerns to the committee. Unfortunately, it appears the committee believes a “do your own thing” mentality supersedes patriotism. College of the Ozarks takes seriously its patriotic mission and thus has made the decision to no longer host the tournament.”
College of the Ozarks has played host to the NAIA Division II tournament for the past 18 seasons.