POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. — College of the Ozarks is taking a stand for the American flag, and consequently, against a major sports tournament held on its campus for nearly 20 years.
The college will no longer host the Men’s Division II Basketball National Tournament over controversy that would require players to stand for the national anthem.
College of the Ozarks is breaking an 18-year standing tradition, over what it says is the NAIA’s refusal to take a stand for our country.
“Patriotism is one of our main goals, because we are patriotic,” Valorie Coleman, public relations director for College of the Ozarks, said.
The college says it met with NAIA officials to come up with a policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem. The NAIA did not create such a rule, saying the school shouldn’t host the tournament if it’s not comfortable doing so. Coleman explains why the college expected the invitation to move the tournament Friday.
“We want to make sure that our players and coaches are respecting and honoring our flag and the national anthem and so forth,” Coleman said. “Because we state that this is our patriotic goal, we certainly have to do what we say.”
With about 32 teams and their families staying in the area every March, Branson Mayor Karen Best says the tournament’s movement doesn’t only impact the campus, but also surrounding cities.
“It will definitely have some economic impact to our community,” Best said. “And so for us, that means we need to go and find a way to replace the business that will not be coming here because of the tournament.”
Best says the NAIA had already been discussing combining this tournament with the Division I tournament held in Kansas City, meaning it’s a problem she’s already considered solutions for.
“Silver Dollar City has the new Time Traveler roller coaster coming in, so we think that’s going to give a real infusion to people coming to the market,” she said.
Coleman says the trade-off is symbolic.
“Sometimes there is some sacrifice involved to stand for something,” Coleman said. “But we’re confident doing that because we’re reminded everyday of the sacrifice our veterans made.”
The college is not sitting out on its opportunity to take a stand. College of the Ozarks has gotten an automatic bid to the tournament in the past. However, if it doesn’t host it, the team will have to win its way in.