S.C. Statehouse Report
June 27, 2004
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/04.0627.bowl.htm

Palmetto Bowl may become victim to Confederate flag
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

JUNE 27, 2004 - - As little time as state lawmakers spent this year discussing a proposed Palmetto Bowl before approving $380,000 a year for 15 years to help create it, one thing didn't come up: the Confederate flag.

Or Star Trek, offered S.C. House Ways and Means Chairman Bobby Harrell of Charleston when asked whether lawmakers talked about the flag in relation to the bowl game.

"I don't see the two issues as being connected," added State Rep. Chip Limehouse, a Charleston Republican who is pushing to create the football bowl game in Charleston in a stadium that also could be revamped for The Citadel.


What do you think about the Palmetto Bowl becoming a victim to the Confederate flag?

  • Should the Legislature reopen the flag issue and take it off the Statehouse grounds?

  • Should the NCAA lift its moratorium on South Carolina?

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SCORECARD: Winners and losers of the past week


But the flag and post-season game are very much related, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. That's because the NCAA currently has a moratorium on championship or post-season certified football events in South Carolina because the flag is "located within a Confederate memorial on the Statehouse grounds," according to a background memo dated April 22, 2004.

According to NCAA rules, any post-season activity has to be "certified" by the NCAA. As long as the flag is on Statehouse grounds, the NCAA won't certify bowl activity in the Palmetto State, according to NCAA spokesperson Dana Thomas.

So where does this leave South Carolina's chance for a bowl game? In a pickle. Up the creek. Between the proverbial rock and hard place.

As it stands, one of two things will have to happen to create the bowl, backed by ESPN and the Charleston Metro Sports Council:

  • The state can reopen the Confederate flag issue to move the banner from the Statehouse Grounds, or

  • The NCAA can lift the ban.

Neither appears likely to happen.

Harrell and Limehouse said lawmakers would not revisit the politically prickly flag issue following a compromise a few years back that took it off the Statehouse dome and put it on the grounds.

"That issue is settled in South Carolina," Harrell said. "I don't anticipate we would have some outside group come in and say they know how to do it better."

To which the NCAA's Thomas replied in a separate phone interview, "Then you're not going to have people from the outside bringing money into the state."

Kathleen Cartland, executive director of the Charleston Metro Sports Council, said her organization was aware of the NCAA moratorium - - something most or all state lawmakers apparently didn't know or realize during budget debates. But she said she expected ESPN and the council to appeal to the NCAA to lift the moratorium in April at its next certification meeting.

That seems unlikely at this stage. Just two months ago on April 29, the NCAA Executive Committee reasserted the moratorium for the third time since 2001:

"It was voted that the Executive Committee direct the Football Certification Subcommittee of the Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet, which oversees the certification of all exempted football contests, to deny any requests for certification of bowl games in any state where a moratorium exists as a result of the state's Confederate Flag stance," according to minutes of the meeting.

A month after the NCAA's reaffirmation of its policy, the S.C. General Assembly approved its $5.6 billion budget, including a proviso that directed $380,000 a year to be held in escrow by the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism "until such time as the department is certain that the bowl game will be held in South Carolina."

Harrell said the budget item was written with flexibility intentionally.

"In the movie 'Field of Dreams,' it was if you build it [a field] they will come. This is if you come, we will build it," he said.

William Jenkinson, chairman of The Citadel's Board of Visitors, said the college doesn't have a dog in the fight over the Palmetto Bowl. It just needs a new stadium. It can play in a planned upgraded facility (22,000 seats) or a bowl-game-sized facility (35,000 seats).

"The Citadel wants a football field and we're going to build one - - one way or another," he said.

A bowl game in the Charleston area would allow The Citadel, plus other schools and groups, to have access to a larger stadium.

The state provided backing to help make the dream a reality. Still, one state senator privately criticized the deal as not getting enough legislative scrutiny and wondered whether it would have passed muster if the flag issue had been connected at the time of budget votes.

For now, hopes for a new bowl game in South Carolina look dim. And that's sad. The bowl, like many companies and people interested in our state, may become victim to an ages-old flag that many find more offensive than historic.

How much more does the state have to lose before lawmakers realize it's time to join the 21st century?

NEXT WEEK: How the recent Senate runoffs may have created a more Sanford-friendly Senate.

6/27: My Life

This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:


6/20: Bad example

To the editor:

With investors with Carolina Investors giving only 15 cents on the dollar to their investors, I would look for other investment firms to "belly up" and try this procedure. I sure hope they continue with all the criminal indictments
for each and every officer and CEO .

-- Boyd McLean. Gaffney, S.C.


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Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various political events from the past week:

Thumbs up

Challengers. Hats off to Chip Campsen and Randy Scott, who both beat Senate incumbents to essentially lock up their respective state Senate seats.

Knotts. Sen. Jakie Knotts, R-Lexington, shows his chutzpah by blaming the Lexington Chamber of Commerce for contributing to the county's environmental problems. More: Lexington County Chronicle.

Hilton Head council members. Two members criticized the Legislature for passing a property tax reassessment cap because they believe it was irresponsible and would cause lots of problems.

Thumbs down

McMaster. The attorney general's support of a lawsuit against the General Assembly's Life Sciences Act looks politically motivated.

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