A college in Branson, Missouri has said it will not host a postseason basketball tournament over fears of national anthem protests.
College of the Ozarks, who has hosted the NAIA Men's Division II Basketball National Tournament for 18 years, has requested that the NAIA move the 2018 tournament to another venue after the association failed to create a policy to punish athletes that protest the anthem.
Jerry C. Davis, president of College of the Ozarks, says that he recently met with NAIA officials to discuss the association that would punish players who did not stand for the national anthem. However, the NAIA has made no action to institute such a policy.
Without such a policy in place, Davis says College of the Ozarks was not comfortable hosting the postseason tournament.
“The NAIA missed the opportunity to take a stand,” Davis says. “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."
Earlier this fall, the college made a policy stating athletic teams will not play opposing teams whose members take a knee or show disrespect during the national anthem.
The college also made headlines this week when it announced it would begin requiring students to attend a "Patriotic Education and Fitness" class in order to graduate.
According to Jeff Seifried, President and CEO of the Branson Area Lakes Chamber of Commerce, the economic impact the tournament had on the region was "in the millions." He said the first priority is to find a facility that will work for everyone — hopefully in the Ozarks region.