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SMITH COLUMN: It's unfortunate if athletics taken away from county

October 31, 2012

Smith

It will be an unfortunate situation if athletics gets taken away, or even partly taken, from the Oktibbeha County schools.

As of right now, its appears the schools still can compete, but only in Class A, Region 3, District 4 games only. That means there can be no participation in the playoffs, no matter what the record shows.

Because of the accreditation issues with the Oktibbeha County schools, this is the direction we are apparently headed toward.

The timing could not be any worse for the West Oktibbeha Timberwolves.

West Oktibbeha (8-2 overall, 6-1 region) travels to Pelahatchie Friday night in what may be the final game of the season if this is not resolved soon. The Timberwolves have a region record worthy of a playoff spot out of Region 3, but since they can't play anyone out of conference, there will be no postseason for them.

Even though there's an appeal process ongoing, it's unclear what kind of chance there is the ruling will be overturned.

It seems that this thing can be put on hold for about a month, so West Oktibbeha could at least have the playoff opportunity.

The East Oktibbeha Titans, who won't be making the playoffs anyway, will close the regular season on Friday at home against Weir, a Choctaw County school that also has an uncertain future.

The county schools also have fielded pretty competitive basketball teams in recent years. There won't be much of a season if those programs can only play region games. Tournaments are probably out for sure. The season is supposed to begin next week. It's in limbo now.

These schools are known for producing some pretty talented athletes, including Jerry Rice and Donald Lee. It's tough to imagine sports being limited or discontinued at either West or East Oktibbeha.

There are more serious issues to consider here than just athletics, of course. Academics must come first and that may be one of the reasons the schools will be forced to cut back on extra curricular activities.

This is out of the hands of the coaches. You can bet they want the best for their staffs and players, but there's nothing they can do.

Hopefully, there can be something worked out with all parties to make sure athletes will be able to display their talents on the court and the field on a full-time basis and have a reward waiting for them at the end for a good season.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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