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Saturday, April 29, 2000

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

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UH coach, official
differ on S.C. Confederate
flag controversy

By Pat Bigold


The NCAA is telling South Carolina to take down the Confederate flag from its state capitol dome by Aug. 11 or it will cancel all events in the state.

This would include the 2002 men's basketball regional in Greenville, S.C., and the men's and women's cross country championships in 2001.

Charles Wethington, NCAA executive committee chairman, said that enough people feel the flag "is a symbol of oppression" for the NCAA to take this action.

But University of Hawaii head men's basketball coach Riley Wallace said he thinks the NCAA has no business imposing itself into the flag debate.

"I don't think the NCAA should be involved in the politics of that," said Wallace. "You can look on the negative side or the positive side of it. I don't say take it down or leave it. But I don't think the NCAA should try to force the hand of the people who live there.

"I wouldn't think anyone should try to be influencing us in Hawaii because we have different ideas. They (South Carolinians) should work out their own problems there."

Wethington cited a request for a boycott of the state by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

"I'm a member of the NABC and I didn't hear anything about it," said Wallace.

Noting he cannot speak for other NCAA coaches, Wallace nonetheless said he wouldn't be surprised if they also feel the NCAA should stay out of the flag issue.

But UH associate athletic director Jim Donovan said he applauds the NCAA action against South Carolina, and doesn't see the Confederate flag to be a political issue.

"I see it as an affront to a race of people," said Donovan. "I don't think it's a Republican vs. Democrat type of thing. I think it insults and intentionally harms a whole race of people who make up a large population of the United States."

The decision was made by the NCAA executive committee meeting in Indianapolis.

Some of South Carolina's college football and basketball coaches (including South Carolina's Lou Holtz and Clemson's Tommy Bowden) have urged that the flag be removed.

Pro tennis player Serena Williams withdrew from the Family Circle Cup tournament because of the flag.

The South Carolina state senate this month passed a bill to take down the flag from the dome and replace it with a similar flag in front of the Statehouse at a monument honoring Confederate soldiers.

The bill was OK'd this week in a House committee and is headed for debate. The South Carolina legislature, which has sole authority to remove the flag, adjourns on June. 1.

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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