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Cathedral coaches hoping school stays in MHSAA

NATCHEZ — A recent proposal by the Mississippi High School Activities Association District 1 coaches would ban private, parochial and boarding schools from being members of the MHSAA.

If enacted, Cathedral High School would no longer be allowed to compete in the MHSAA — and Green Wave coaches are hopeful it doesn’t come to pass.

“Realistically, we hope it doesn’t happen,” Cathedral athletic director and baseball coach Craig Beesley said. “We’ve had a good 40-something years (in the MHSAA), and it’s kind of a tradition for us. We have a good relationship with a lot of the public schools, and we hope to keep it.”

Smithville High School principal Chad O’Brian introduced the motion to ban all non-public schools from the MHSAA at the next reclassification. The proposal passed by a majority vote of the 41 schools in attendance and will move to the MHSAA executive meeting in November.

The concern O’Brian raised was that private schools can enroll students outside district lines. But Beesley said he thinks the issues are possibly only local issues for schools in District 1.

“I think some of the public schools up there were upset with (the private schools) picking up players the last few years,” Beesley said.

Green Wave head football coach Ron Rushing said it wouldn’t be fair for every private school in the MHSAA to suffer because of one or two not abiding by the rules and recruiting players from public schools.

“I think recruiting happens (in Mississippi), but all I can do is continue to do what we have been, which is following the rules,” Rushing said. “If a school recruits, then penalize them.”

Rushing added that he doesn’t expect the proposal to pass at the MHSAA executive meeting. He also noted that a player transferring from one MHSAA school to another can’t play until the following year, which is an effective deterrent from recruiting another team’s players, he said.

When it comes to attracting students, Cathedral’s main draw is its academics, Rushing said.

“We feel we offer one of the best educations in the area,” Rushing said. “Our ACT scores are great, and we feel that’s what attracts students.”

Natchez High School head football coach Lance Reed said he understands the concerns about recruiting athletes, but he said that’s not an issue with Cathedral.

“We have a great relationship with them,” Reed said. “There are no issues of losing kids to Cathedral. I’ve always said, if a student ever decides to go to Cathedral, it’s because it’s a good academic school, and that’s what’s first anyway.”

Beesley said Cathedral’s no-recruiting policy goes back to his father, Ken Beesley’s, days as football coach.

“We’ve had only three coaches the past 30 to 35 years, and (Ken Beesley) never believed in recruiting, and that kind of carried over,” Craig Beesley said. “Natchez High knows we won’t come after their players, and we know they won’t come after ours.”

Information from an Associated Press story was used in this report.

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