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MHSAA waiting to make a decision on fall sports; executive director Hinton to retire

The Mississippi High School Activities Association did a lot of talking on Tuesday, but is waiting a little longer to take any action.

The MHSAA’s 15-member executive committee met to discuss a wide range of possible scenarios dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent adjustments to the fall sports season.

In a statement released Tuesday evening, MHSAA executive director Don Hinton said the executive committee will meet again on July 14 to reassess the situation.

“At this point, nothing has changed,” Hinton said. “There was no consensus today — and not that we were trying to create one, either. We want to get through the July 4th weekend and see how things look in a couple of weeks.”

Hinton said the scenarios discussed Tuesday included:

• Delaying the start of the fall sports season. Teams have returned to practice and are currently scheduled to play their regular-season openers on Aug. 21. Preseason jamborees and scrimmages are scheduled for Aug. 14.

Don Hinton

• Switching the fall and spring seasons, so that non-contact sports such as baseball and softball would be played in the fall and football in the spring.

• Shortening the football season to as few as seven region games per team.

Hinton said each adjustment would bring different consequences. If the spring sports are moved to the fall, for example, a COVID-19 outbreak might cause those teams to lose two consecutive seasons. The 2020 spring seasons were suspended in mid-March and canceled a month later because of the initial statewide shutdowns.

“Obviously each of these changes have different levels of impact,” Hinton said. “There’s been talk about moving football to the spring, but there are a lot of different issues with implementing that scenario. Our committee knows spring sports were cut short in March. What happens if the COVID situation leads to a shutdown in the fall and those students end up missing two consecutive seasons? So we have to look at the impact across the board.”

Hinton added that waiting a couple more weeks will allow the executive committee to make a more informed decision on an issue that often changes daily. After several weeks of declining COVID-19 cases in Mississippi, there has been a spike in the last two weeks.

“We’ll continue to get input from our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. We’ll also communicate with officials from the state departments of Education and Health as well keeping up with reports from the Governor’s office,” Hinton said. “Our Executive Committee wants to have as much information as possible before any changes are instituted to the fall sports calendar. We are committed to have all of our sports seasons and championships if at all possible.”

In other news Tuesday, Hinton announced that he will retire as the MHSAA’s executive director effective Dec. 31, 2020.

Hinton has been the MHSAA’s leader since July 2011. He will turn 65 in october.

“I really felt when I arrived at the association that I’d like to work here for 10 years,” Hinton said. “It’s been a blessing and a great experience to be able to serve in this position. I’m very thankful for the opportunity.”

Kalvin Robinson, president of the MHSAA executive committee and assistant superintendent for Madison County Schools, said the committee — made up of 15 school administrators from throughout the state — will begin the process of selecting Hinton’s replacement in the next few weeks.

“We’ll talk further about choosing his successor at the executive committee meeting on July 14th,” Robinson said. “We expect a lot of good candidates to be interested. We’ll conduct a thorough process to find the best one.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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