MHSAA investigating Cathedral’s Boothe transfer is hypocritical

Published 12:01 am Sunday, December 14, 2014

You’re a meat lover soon-to-be turning vegetarian.

You ask me if you can enjoy your last feast of meat, including ribs, sausage and steak at my house, to which I grant you that permission. You come over, tear into the ribs, devouring them and licking your fingers as you anticipate the next course. As I walk over, plate of steak in hand, I decided that I made an error, and that maybe you shouldn’t have had this meat to begin with. I show you the door, closing the book on your meat-eating history, giving you only a third of what I promised you. How hypocritical.

If the Mississippi High School Athletics Association chooses to reverse course and rule Cathedral’s Wyatt Boothe ineligible, Boothe’s high school playing career could end after only enjoying one course of his promised three-course meal (football, basketball and baseball). As a senior, this is his last chance to enjoy that sports platter, should he not play sports at the next level. And to think, it’s all because one school had the gall to ask the MHSAA to investigate Boothe’s eligibility.

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What’s funny about this controversial issue is that it’s come this far. Before the season, Boothe and Cathedral sent a letter to the MHSAA detailing why Boothe wanted to transfer. Boothe’s reasoning stemmed from the uncertainty at Trinity, having lost two players, struggling to even come up with enough players to have a football team in 2014. Of course, Trinity rebounded with transfers of its own and had a great season, making it to the semifinals in MAIS Class A. But before those Natchez High School transfers switched over to Trinity and gave Zach Rogel’s Saints new life, Boothe decided to “go green” and play for Cathedral, as Adams County Christian School wasn’t an option because it was another private school. The MHSAA read the letter, and sent one back approving Boothe, making him eligible for the 2014-15 athletic season.

The story should have ended there, but as we all know, that was the beginning of something bigger to come. The story took an odd turn when Cathedral Chief Administrator Pat Sanguinetti had a discussion with MHSAA executive director Don Hinton last Saturday and came away believing Boothe was ineligible. After we ran the story, Hinton refuted it, saying that Boothe is not ineligible. Sanguinetti took the blame, saying he misinterpreted what Hinton told him.

I personally asked both Sanguinetti and Hinton about what Hinton said that could have possibly caused the confusion. Sanguinetti continued to accept the blame, unwilling to talk about the conversation. Meanwhile, Hinton deflected like an NFL cornerback, repeatedly telling me I’d have to ask Sanguinetti. Around and around we go in this Merry Go Round of Perplexity.

It shouldn’t take a genius to see the bigger picture. Sanguinetti, as intelligent and as by the book as he is, wouldn’t confuse a serious matter like this unless he was told something along the lines of, “Boothe can no longer play.” But until anyone goes on record, everyone is left looking at this story wide-eyed with their heads tilted.

With the direction this is going in, all I can say is I hope the ruling is carried out fairly. If you’re going to truly limit Cathedral, a team located in a city neighboring Louisiana, to Mississippi team members only, then hopefully, teams on the coast throughout the state will be held to the same standard.

So here we are, one day away from the MHSAA meeting once again to discuss the reasoning for Boothe’s transfer.

The MHSAA gave Boothe a taste of the ribs, and he licked his fingers with a state championship win in football. Will they allow him to stick around and finish his meal, or will they take that promised privilege away from him?

JAKE MARTIN is the sports editor for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or