For the first time in 18 years, College of the Ozarks will not host the NAIA D-II men’s national basketball tournament (photo/College of the Ozarks)

College of the Ozarks will not host the 2018 NAIA Men’s Division II Basketball National Tournament after the school and the NAIA failed to agree on a policy regarding players standing during the National Anthem.

“We recently met with NAIA officials and had what we thought was a very productive discussion about creating a policy that players will stand for the national anthem,” said College President Jerry C. Davis. “We also agreed that having a forum to discuss the issue with coaches and players prior to the opening of the tournament would be beneficial. Unfortunately, the executive committee of the Council of Presidents refused to create a policy or hold a forum. 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 NAIA missed the opportunity to take a stand,” Davis said. “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.

“We appreciate the efforts of the staff to communicate our concerns to the committee,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, it appears the committee believes a ‘do your own thing’ mentality supersedes patriotism. College of the Ozarks takes seriously its patriotic mission and thus has made the decision to no longer host the tournament.”

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 NAIA released a statement:

“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,” said NAIA President Jim Carr. “However, our first priority is providing students-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.”

The NAIA believes the playing of the anthem provides student-athletes and fans an important and time-honored tradition to honor our country and veterans. The association encourages everyone in attendance to stand when the anthem is played.

The NAIA also understands that the freedom of speech — and the right to peaceful protest — are indisputable rights in the United States. 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 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.”