Greenville, South Carolina, became the first city to in the state to host the NCAA Tournament since the NCAA banned South Carolina from hosting events in 2002 for flying the Confederate flag at the state capital.

The ban was lifted after South Carolina removed the flag in 2015, and the state got the tournament site taken from Greensboro, North Carolina, which is now banned from hosting the tournament because of the state’s transphobic “bathroom bill,” HB2.

However, demonstrators angry with the NCAA raised a Confederate flag outside the arena in Greenville.

The racist protest upset South Carolina coach Frank Martin, who discussed the issue after his Gamecocks upset Duke in Greenville on Sunday night:

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s America,” Martin said. “You think we all agree on everything? Our state is united. Our state believes in peace and harmony. That’s why this event is being held in our state right now. Our state is progressive. Our state has incredible people that’s about moving forward.

“But it’s America. We have freedoms. People have freedoms to do whatever they want to do with themselves and their property. It is what it is.

“There are things out there that I don’t like. But I can’t force people to do what I want them to do. All I know is this unbelievable university and state has taken in a son of Cuban immigrants that’s married to a Jamaican woman, has mixed kids, and they’ve treated me like I’m one of their own from Day 1.

“I wouldn’t want to coach in any other state or with any other group of people, for any other bosses than the ones I’ve got. Our alums, our community is a beautiful, beautiful place. It’s a united state. Unfortunately, things like that happen but we live in the United States of America — and we don’t all agree on things.”

The protestors said they wanted to “show the NCAA that we’re still here.”

About Kevin Trahan

Kevin mostly covers college football and college basketball, with an emphasis on NCAA issues and other legal issues in sports. He is also an incoming law student. He's written for SB Nation, USA Today, VICE Sports, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.