Ruling Stands: MHSAA doesn’t give ground on out-of-state rule

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015


clinton — The Mississippi High School Activities Association is standing its ground on banning out-of-state students playing sports.

The principals of the four Catholic schools operating in the Diocese of Jackson, including Cathedral School’s Pat Sanguinetti, and the Diocese Superintendent of Catholic Education Catherine Cook, traveled to Clinton Monday to state their case with MHSAA officials.

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A number of students from each of the schools live in another state, but go to school in Mississippi. Sanguinetti estimated 78 Cathedral students hail from out of state. Under a current MHSAA regulation, those students are ineligible to play athletics.

After the meeting, which was closed to the public, MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton said the rule banning out-of-state students from participation in Mississippi high school athletics would not change.

“We’ve been working with our parochial school administrators for more than two years,” Hinton said. “Just discussing with them about if there were and how many out-of-state students were in their schools. We’ve had this conversation along the way. We have a rule, and we are going to enforce it, and we are at the point where our board said, ‘Yeah, we need to enforce it.’”

Earlier this month the MHSAA executive committee voted 7-5 to enforce a rule banning out-of-state students from participating in athletics in the state.

However, many of the people the rule is impacting, said they have been caught off guard.

“It is going to affect all of us,” Sanguinetti said of the four schools represented in the meeting — Cathedral, Madison St. Joseph, Greenville St. Joseph and St. Aloysius.

Hinton said the rule, though, has been long standing.

“It isn’t all of a sudden,” he said. “This is our fourth year as a staff being here, and we’ve been working with our schools, because we have a rule, if you live outside of the state of Mississippi, you cannot participate. If someone was here, we tried to let them graduate either last year or the year before, so that we could help and work with our schools, but letting them know we have to enforce it.”

Sanguinetti said Monday’s meeting, though, was a small step in the two sides working together.

“It was a start and got the conversation going,” Sanguinetti said. “(Hinton) gave the procedures we need to do as far as getting it changed.”

Sanguinetti said he plans to have a proposal ready for the next executive committee meeting on July 21 in hopes of getting the rule overturned.“We will have something put together and present it during the July 21 meeting,” Sanguinetti said. “The vote went 7-5 (to uphold the rule), and if we present our case, maybe we can get it to swap the other way.”

Sanguinetti said if the decision isn’t overturned, he plans to continue to do what is best for the students.

“If the decision is not in our favor, we will do whatever we have to do to continue to have the students in our school and continue to participate in activities,” Sanguinetti said.

Whether that would be to leave the MHSAA or not would ultimately be up to the Diocese of Jackson, but Sanguinetti was adamant no Cathedral student would be punished by the rule.

“No student from Louisiana is going to have to leave,” Sanguinetti said. “If we have to get out, we have to get out. I hope we don’t have to on such short notice.”

MHSAA associate directors Lonnie Tillman and Rickey Neaves were also at the Monday meeting.