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Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame banquet returning to River City

[10/15/04] For at least one more year, Vicksburg will be where Mississippi’s sports legends pass into immortality.

The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony will return to the city for a fourth straight year in 2005. The banquet will be at the Vicksburg Convention Center on April 1.

“There was a desire by the leadership to come back because of how well we’ve been treated there,” said Mike Robbins, president of the Jackson Touchdown Club, which hosts the banquet. “Basically, the leadership of the community has assured us of getting more folks involved in the banquet.”

Community support was an issue for the Touchdown Club, Robbins said.

Attendance has stayed steady during the banquet’s run in Vicksburg, with about 1,000 people attending per year. Most of those are friends and family members of the inductees and corporate sponsors, however, and not local residents.

The Touchdown Club was courted by several cities, including Jackson, Philadelphia and Biloxi, about moving the banquet and it remains an option for the future. Robbins said he’d like to keep the event in Vicksburg, but the decision will be made on a year-to-year basis.

“It is” year-to-year, Robbins said. “The mayor, in his remarks last year, said something about it being a great event for the city for years to come. But it’s not certain.”

This year’s inductees include former Ole Miss and U.S. Women’s Olympic basketball team coach Van Chancellor; former Cleveland Browns defensive back Hanford Dixon; Eupora native Hal Easterwood, a former Misissippi State football star; ex-Ole Miss quarterback Bobby Ray Franklin; sportscaster Bill Goodrich, who will be inducted posthumously; golfer and administrator Bill Iupe Jr., a Canton native; Charlie Rugg, a former tennis and basketball coach at Belhaven; and former Southern Miss basketball coach M.K. Turk.

Tickets for the banquet cost $100. They aren’t on sale yet, but will be by Jan. 1, Robbins said. For more information on tickets, or to reserve a ticket, call Robbins at (601) 981-4411.