MHSAA announces major changes
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 1:00 PM
JACKSON - The Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) announced Monday plans to move its state championship football games to the campuses of Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
The 2014 championship games for all six classifications is set to be held at Starkville's Davis-Wade Stadium. In 2015, the games will move to Oxford's Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (with the same rotation in 2016 and 2017).
The announcement came at a press conference at MHSAA headquarters, where Executive Director Don Hinton expressed his excitement over a decision he said the organization had been mulling for years.
"We looked at what the Alabama High School Athletic Association did as far as rotating their football championships at Auburn and Alabama," he said. "We looked at the logistics of it as far as hosting their State Football Championship when they are not hosting the Iron Bowl.
"For us, it's all about our students, whether it's athletics or activity like dance or band. We want the best facilities and venues possible."
The change had been talked about for weeks, but was still hard for Jacksonians to swallow - the 2013 football championships attendance of 13,600 (the lowest figure in five years) had an estimated $960,000 in economic impact.
The MHSAA also announced changes to its annual basketball tournament.
Hinton said the organization plans to expand the state basketball tournament from 36 games in eight days to 84 games in 10 days, with all 48 of the extra games to be played inside the city of Jackson.
Gone is the North-State and South-State single-site, play-in format, replaced with a highest-seed hosts format.
Starting in 2015, the 24 boys quarterfinal games will be played at Jackson State's Athletics and Assembly Center March 3-7. The girls quarterfinals will remain at the Mississippi Coliseum. (Next year, the boys and girls will rotate locations, so the boys' quarterfinals will be at the Coliseum and the girls will play at JSU.)
As it was before, all semifinal and final-round games will be held in "the big house" - the Mississippi Coliseum.
In case that wasn't enough, the MHSAA also announced that it will, for the first time in 27 years, sanction to the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star football game in order for the Magnolia State to host the event for the first time.
The partnership with the Mississippi Association of Coaches is going to allow the University of Southern Mississippi to host the event, in alternating years with Montgomery, Ala., with the first game in Hattiesburg set for Dec. 12, 2015.