BY SAMUEL RIVERS JR.
I’m writing to shed some light on the NCAA moratorium which prohibits South Carolina from hosting a post-season college football bowl game.
This moratorium was called for after former state Sen. Robert Ford, an African-American, co-sponsored the legislation that allowed for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from its sovereign place of prominent display atop the Statehouse Dome and both chambers of the Legislature to a more suitable place where all the other monuments are.
Those on both sides of the aisle saw this as a compromise and prudent solution to this highly charged issue.
I, along with fellow members of the Berkeley and Charleston County legislative delegations, religious, community and business leaders, black and white, met on Aug. 9 with Brian Woods, a sports executive who represents the interests of the Legends Bowl.
We agreed that an NCAA bowl game is an opportunity that can’t be passed up.
We must now encourage the NCAA to move forward, as the state of South Carolina strives to do in its race relations, and allow a bowl game to be played at The Citadel in Charleston just like they have allowed other NCAA bowl games in South Carolina to be played with the moratorium in place.
In 2007 and 2009, the NCAA allowed postseason bowl games to be held at Benedict College in Columbia.
In both instances, the moratorium was not enforced and no penalties were placed on the host school or participating institutions.
In race relations throughout our state, we move to heal and mend to ensure South Carolina is not stymied by indecision and fear.
I’ve sent letters to NCAA’s president and executive committee encouraging them to allow Charleston to move forward with the bowl game and showcase the good that dwells in the hearts of the citizens of Charleston and throughout the state of South Carolina. Allowing an NCAA bowl game to be played in Charleston would demonstrate that there is a sense of cooperation, community, compromise and promise now and for the future.
The NCAA has yet to determine its level of involvement, if any, with bowl certification in 2014 and beyond.
Still, the current moratorium has the potential to levy penalties on the conferences participating in the Charleston bowl game.
The participating conferences, along with their membership, should not be penalized for something that has nothing to do with them nor which they have any control over.
A college football bowl game would bring over 15,000 visitors, result in an estimated economic impact of over $7 million to the Lowcountry and have a lasting and far-reaching influence on future athletic events and the spirit of cooperation in our state.
I hope you will join me in this endeavor by contacting the NCAA’s president and officers as soon as possible encouraging them to not levy any sanctions or penalties on the proposed Charleston bowl game, the host institution or participating institutions.
Samuel Rivers Jr., a Republican, represents District 15, including portions of Berkeley and Charleston counties, in the S.C. House.