The 2018 Men's Division II Basketball National Tournament will be looking for a new home.
College of the Ozarks and the NAIA announced Friday that they have agreed to relocate the 2018 NAIA DII Men's Basketball Championship.
The decision is in response to the private Christian college's Sept. 29 announcement that the school would walk away from any game where the opposing team takes a knee, sits or turns its back on the American flag or national anthem.
After multiple meetings between the NAIA and the C of O, the two decided to part ways after 18 years.
During the meetings, the College of the Ozarks requested the NAIA to enforce an association-wide requirement of all players and coaches to stand during the anthem.
“The NAIA respects the rights of all our members to determine the best course of action for their teams in regards to the national anthem,” NAIA President Jim Carr said in a press release. “However, our first priority is providing student-athletes the best event possible and neither the NAIA nor the College of the Ozarks want this issue to disrupt the competition or diminish the student-athlete experience.”
C of O President Jerry Davis said in a news release that the school requested to develop a forum to discuss the issue with players and coaches prior to the beginning of the tournament.
"Unfortunately, the executive committee of the Council of Presidents refused to create a policy or hold a forum," Davis said in the release. "As a result, the College felt that its concerns were not taken seriously by the committee and requested that the tournament be moved. The College is willing to help with the move to another venue.”
The news release stated the committee, on more than one occasion, said they did not want the college to host the tournament if it wasn't comfortable doing so.
“The NAIA missed the opportunity to take a stand,” Davis said in the release. “They refused to craft a simple policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem. The NAIA’s refusal demonstrates a lack of moral clarity on a significant national issue.
"Their decision contradicts their own character emphasis that identifies respect as a key trait, and we believe they are missing a golden opportunity to teach student-athletes about the honor due our country and its Veterans."
The NAIA said it believes the anthem provides student-athletes and fans an important time to honor tradition and to honor the country and veterans. The association said it encourages those in attendance to stand when the anthem is played.
The league's statement also said it understands freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest.
"Because the NAIA is made up of 250 diverse schools, the association believes it is in the best interest of the institutions to let them individually decide what actions are acceptable for their coaches and student-athletes," the press release said.
“The College of the Ozarks has been a gracious and accommodating championship host for 18 years,” said NAIA President Jim Carr. “We appreciate their hospitality, as do the many student-athletes who had the privilege of playing in the DII national championship in Branson.”
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