Jason McKay knows the thrills he experienced playing in a state basketball tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
Now, as a coach, he’s working to see that more of today’s players, not less, have the opportunity to reach the “Big House” during the postseason.
The Mississippi High School Activities Association, citing economic concerns, eliminated the third-place team from advancing to the 2010 state tournament. In all, six boys and six girls teams did not make the trip to Jackson.
“We’re being told financial reasons are a big part of it,” said McKay, who coaches the Baldwyn High School boys team. “My question is this: ‘What price do you put on a positive memory for a kid?'”
McKay and three other basketball coaches – Coldwater’s Wert Spiva, Newton’s Crandal Porter and West Bolivar’s Willie Thomas – traveled to Clinton on Thursday to present a proposal to the MHSAA executive committee.
“We proposed that a committee of basketball coaches be formed to work with the MHSAA on a new (state tournament) format that would allow more teams to compete in the state tournament,” McKay said. “We want this because of what it means to the kids and the communities. More should experience the state tournament, not less.”
The MHSAA trimmed its state tournament field in 2009 following the addition of a sixth classification. The 2010 tournament was the first played with six classifications.
The move gave the state a Final Four format, featuring only the top two teams from the North and South playing for the championship gold ball trophy.
Any changes made in the new format would have to come from the MHSAA’s executive committee, which is made up of school officials from around the state. It’s headed by outgoing executive director, Dr. Ennis Proctor.
McKay proposed a plan to the executive committee last year that called for allowing even more teams to qualify, not just three. He sent out a survey to the state’s coaches seeking their opinion. Of the 108 who responded, 102 wanted something other than the Final Four format.
The coaches group met 15 minutes Thursday with the executive committee. McKay said no timetable was given as to when a decision would be made on their proposal.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal