Spurrier: Flag should come down from S.C. Statehouse
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The Confederate flag shouldn't fly at the Statehouse, South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier said Saturday after the Gamecocks' spring game.
Spurrier's comments came in response to questions about something he said Friday night when he received an award from a volunteer organization. According to people at that event, Spurrier said the flag should come down.
"My opinion is we don't need the Confederate flag at our Capitol," Spurrier said Saturday. "I don't really know anybody that wants it there, but I guess there are a lot of South Carolinians that do want it there."
City Year board chairman Kerry Abel said Spurrier's remarks at his group's awards banquet Friday night caught everyone by surprise.
On a video of the banquet, Spurrier is heard saying the South Carolina-Tennessee game last year, which was featured on ESPN's "GameDay," was marred "by some clown ... waving that dang, damn Confederate flag behind the TV set. And it was embarrassing to me and I know embarrassing to our state.
"I realize I'm not supposed to get in the political arena as a football coach, but if anybody were ever to ask me about that damn Confederate flag, I would say we need to get rid of it. I've been told not to talk about that. But if anyone were ever to ask me about it, I certainly wish we could get rid of it."
Jenna Micklash, who attended the event, said the coach's comments came as he accepted a citizenship award from the group, which encourages young people to take on community improvement projects.
Micklash said Spurrier prefaced his remarks by saying the event wasn't supposed to be political and said that he doesn't usually get a chance to talk to as diverse a crowd as the one that was at the awards ceremony.
"I think everybody got kind of excited about" bringing down the flag, Micklash said later Friday. "It was one of the coolest moments I've seen."
Spurrier's predecessor, Lou Holtz, joined Clemson's football coach Tommy Bowden and both schools' head basketball coaches in calling for the flag to be removed from the Capitol dome in 2000, when the NAACP started a boycott of the state.
The flag was removed from the dome in 2000 but placed at the Confederate Soldier Monument on Statehouse grounds. The state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said that was not good enough and continued its boycott. The initial boycott drew wide support from inside and outside the state, but encouragement for the ongoing effort has waned in recent years.
The NCAA has prohibited the state from playing host to championship events in which the sites are deterimined in advance -- such as the basketball regionals -- since 2001 because of the Confederate flag.
Spurrier said Saturday that no one had asked him his opinion of the flag in the two season he has coached at South Carolina.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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