The NCAA has lifted its nearly 15-year ban on South Carolina’s ability to host pre-selected NCAA championships. The lift came after the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds.

Shortly after the flag was taken down, the NCAA issued a statement from President Mark Emmert: “The NCAA strongly supports today’s removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House grounds. This step sends an important message of respect for and dignity of every person. As a national association, the NCAA opposes this symbol of racism, and since 2001 we have demonstrated our opposition by not playing pre-selected championships in states where the flag was flown prominently. The removal of the Confederate flag now means that South Carolina can bid to host future NCAA championships.”

The bill to remove the flag arrived on South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s desk on July 9 following hours of debate by lawmakers in the South Carolina House. The measure passed by a two-thirds margin. Moments after Haley signed the bill into law, the NCAA issued a statement saying it would lift the ban on South Carolina once the flag is removed. “We commend South Carolina lawmakers for taking this action to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds,” said Kirk Schulz, NCAA Board of Governors chair and Kansas City University president. “With this impending change, and consistent with our policy, South Carolina may bid to host future NCAA championships once the flag no longer flies at the State House grounds.”