The Mississippi High School Activities Association’s legislative council is expected to vote Thursday on a proposal that would expand the state basketball tournament from four teams to as many as eight for the 2014-15 school year.
Another proposal being considered is the expulsion of 13 private schools – including Tupelo Christian Prep – from the association. Smithville principal Chad O’Brian, who introduced the proposal at the District 1 fall meeting, says the schools have an unfair advantage in recruiting students.
The state tournament expansion proposal, passed by District 1 at the MHSAA’s fall meeting in Tupelo, will be introduced and voted on for the first time at the council meeting.
If passed, the proposal would move forward to the next scheduled council meeting in February. The proposal must pass a second time to be approved as policy.
“I think all the coaches in the state are on the same page with this proposal,” Calhoun City coach Daren Coffey said. “I hope this time we can get it done for the sake of the kids and the coaches.”
Under the new basketball proposal, four teams from each division tournament would advance to a 16-team North/South playoff. The top-seeded teams would host each round. In classes 1A through 4A, four teams would advance from the North and four from the South to the state tournament in Jackson. In classes 5A and 6A, three teams each from the North and South would advance to state.
The MHSAA would then determine the brackets and dates played for each classification.
Prior to 2009, six teams – three each from the North and South – advanced to the tournament. The current format has four teams – two each from the North and South – playing in the state tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
Two previous proposals – one that included moving two classifications to another state tournament site – have been voted down.
“A majority of the schools are for this proposal,” longtime MHSAA District 1 secretary Larry Williams said. “All the basketball coaches want to send more teams to the state tournament.”
MHSAA executive director Don Hinton told the Daily Journal in August: “Our basketball coaches have been very passionate about changing our current policy. We’ll see how that goes.”