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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, May 12, 2000

R A I N B O W _ S P O R T S

UH logo

Wallace will
write letter to
concerned group

University of Hawaii officials
have yet to make a formal
statement in the Confederate
flag controversy

By Pat Bigold


There still has been no formal public response from the University of Hawaii to complaints by two civic groups about remarks made about the Confederate flag by men's basketball head coach Riley Wallace.

But a school spokesman indicated yesterday that Wallace will write a letter to the African-American Association.

That group and the Japanese American Citizens' League both expressed concern about Wallace's comments on whether South Carolina should fly the Confederate flag from the statehouse dome. The NCAA has demanded that South Carolina remove the flag.

The African-American Association, which issued its first statement Wednesday, also called for the coach's removal "as soon as contractually possible."

Wallace said in an April 29 Star-Bulletin story that the South Carolina flag issue was none of the NCAA's business, and should be settled by South Carolinians. That state's legislature has since voted to remove the flag.

"We recognize that for many African Americans the Confederate battle flag symbolizes and represents slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and racism," stated JACL chapter President Allison Tanaka.

Outgoing university President Kenneth Mortimer yesterday repeated his stance that Wallace was only exercising his right as a citizen to freedom of speech.

A spokesman said Wallace and Mortimer met Wednesday at Wallace's request. But the content of the meeting was not disclosed.

Faye Kennedy, spokeswoman for the African-American Association, said she'd appreciate a letter from Wallace. "But it still wouldn't really solve the problem," she said, "because the university has to take some position."

She said that a letter alone "would be completely inadequate."

Kennedy said she is disappointed to see the university "circling the wagons" over the issue of Wallace's remarks and believes it could prove costly.

"Now this issue has been on the Internet, and if the university leaves it floating around, it may be weighed by black athletes on the mainland considering coming here," she said.

Tanaka took a similar view in her release yesterday.

"Coach Wallace should be more sensitive to the pain that continuing display of the Confederate flag causes African Americans, including players and his coaching colleagues," she said. "His insensitivity can only hurt the University of Hawaii in its efforts to recruit athletes of all races."

Susan Kreifels also contributed to this report.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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