The NCAA is making contingency plans to move the 2002 Final Four from Atlanta because of the use of the Confederate battle symbol in the Georgia state flag.
"We have been developing contingency plans on a number of options. Obviously, one of the scenarios we have to keep open is an alternative site," NCAA spokesman Wally Renfro told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The newspaper reported Thursday that the Indianapolis-based NCAA has said it will probably decide in April, after the Georgia legislative session ends in March, whether to move the tournament and possibly the 2003 women's Final Four.
Changing the flag to eliminate the Confederate emblem is expected to be a heated issue in the Legislature. Martin Luther King III, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, asked the NCAA last year to relocate the tournaments unless the flag is changed by March 31.
The NCAA Executive Committee rejected the request in August. Kentucky president Charles Wethington, chairman of the executive committee, said the association would monitor activities concerning the Confederate symbol.
Renfro said the NCAA has talked to officials in several cities about staging the 2002 tournament, but he declined to identify them. Officials in St. Louis are prepared to make a bid.
"We understand the NCAA is looking at a number of scenarios as it monitors developments around the Confederate flag issue," said Doug Elgin, commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference. "We're in the process of moving forward with a possible plan to host an event here."
Georgia lawmakers changed the flag in 1956 to include the Confederate symbol in response to court-ordered integration in the South.
©2001 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
© 2001 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.