MAIS sanctions Hartfield Academy for illegal recruiting

Published 1:43 pm Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Mid-South Association of Independent Schools banned Hartfield Academy’s football team from the postseason and fined the school $7,500 for illegal recruiting, the association announced Thursday.

The MAIS levied the penalties after reviewing accusations made by Madison-St. Joseph. The association said St. Joe issued an illegal recruiting complaint against Hartfield for violating a section of the MAIS handbook and “multiple sections of the MAIS ethics policy.”

The MAIS Affairs Committee reviewed slides, videos and audio tapes provided by St. Joe that purportedly showed evidence of the infractions that occurred during a basketball game between the schools in November 2022.

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The motion to sanction Hartfield passed by a 9-0 vote.

“In particular, Hartfield coaches were clearly seen on video addressing multiple parents and a student from St. Joe in the visitor’s stands and on the upper deck of the gym during a basketball game played at Hartfield,” the MAIS Affairs Committee said in its report.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Hartfield Academy said it planned to appeal the decision. It also said it had conducted an internal investigation that determined the school did not violate any rules.

“Hartfield administration has already begun the process of appealing this decision. We are confident that a closer look at the evidence will prove a different result,” Hartfield said in its statement.

Hartfield Academy reached the MAIS Class 6A football championship game in 2021 and the semifinals in 2022. It will be ineligible for the playoffs this year, was fined $7,500, and coaches Ryan Lindsay and Lee Dawkins will not be permitted to coach in games.

Lindsay and Dawkins are both assistant coaches. They will be allowed to coach in practice.

The sanctions are effective immediately.

Hartfield opens its football season Aug. 11 at Heritage Academy. It is scheduled to play Madison-St. Joe on Oct. 20 in Madison.

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 reporters in the paper's 140-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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