The biggest sports headline of the week was the news out of Starkville. No one saw this coming. Lady Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer is heading to the University of Texas. Schaefer made the Lady Bulldogs a national power in his eight seasons. It will be difficult to replace him, but MSU Lady Bulldogs basketball is a top-brand program on the national scale. The position will draw national interest.
The Southeastern Conference sent out a statement Friday that all athletic activities, including team and individual practices, meetings and other organized gatherings, as well as camps and coaching clinics, will be suspended through at least May 31. This was based on possible health concerns and developments associated with COVID-19. The college athletic programs will take a great hit in the coffers going forward no matter how this ends. The fans may face financial hardships and could see sports in a different perspective after this crisis. The uniqueness of this situation going forward could change the way many see sports. Will the fans up in age really want to go back to the games?
High School Sports
The Mississippi High School Activities Association is still in a holding pattern on spring sports. The suspended spring sports season runs through April 20 but will probably run longer. Schools have to be reopened before any games will be played. The MHSAA probably has a drop-date set that would determine if the season continues.
More Basketball News
USM basketball coach Jay Ladner is excited about the planned refurbishing of Reed Green Coliseum. The city of Hattiesburg passed a special sales tax last April to provide $1.2 million a year over the next three years to invest in the arena built in 1965. Besides that good news, the basketball teams will also have a new practice facility that is in the planning stages. Look for USM basketball to schedule more of a regional slate as they add rivals from the past. We might see games with Tulane, South Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe. Ladner has also had conversations with both Mississippi State and Ole Miss about future games. Next year, the Eagles will open the season at TCU. St. Augustine point guard Jaron Pierre of New Orleans committed to the Golden Eagles this week on his Twitter account. The 6-4, 180-pounder is considered the top high school player in NOLA.
Jones College coach Missy Bilderback has decided not to take the Northwestern Louisiana head coaching position but remain at JC because of the uncertainty of the pandemic. Northwestern hired her on March 18. In five seasons at Jones, she has compiled a 127-20 mark. Former Ole Miss All-American Rahim Lockhard has been named the head basketball coach at East Central Community College.
New Orleans legendary kicker Tom Dempsey passed away this week at 73 years of age after contracting COVID-19. He was born without toes on his right foot, but despite his handicap he kicked ten years in the NFL. Dempsey kicked a then record 63-yarder in a last second Saints win over the Lions in 1970 at Tulane Stadium. The record held up for 43 years before Denver’s Matt Prater kicked a 64-yarder in 2013 at Mile High Stadium.
During these uncertain times let’s remember to do our part and look out for others as we go through the worst pandemic in our country in over 100 years. Unless the need is essential, stay home to avoid inadvertently spreading COVID-19.
Dale is a Waynesboro resident that has been writing sports since 1973 in Mississippi.