Rick Cleveland returned to full-time sports writing today as the sports columnist for Mississippi Today.

Cleveland is the former executive director and historian for the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

“Obviously, I have mixed emotions about leaving the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, which I believe so strongly in,” said Cleveland, who became the museum’s second executive director in April 2012. “I am proud of the improvements we have made and extremely happy that Bill Blackwell is in place as executive director to continue preserving and promoting Mississippi’s incredible sports legacy.”

“We are delighted that Rick has chosen Mississippi Today as the forum for his return as a full time sports columnist,” said Fred Anklam Jr., co-editor of Mississippi Today.

Plans are for Cleveland to write two columns a week for Mississippi Today, as well as daily blog posts and news stories as warranted. He will continue to write a weekly column for Mississippi newspapers syndicated through the Mississippi Press Association.

Added Cleveland: “I started my career writing sports in Mississippi at age 13 and that’s the way I want to finish my career, doing what I love and writing about what I love. I strongly believe in the mission of Mississippi Today and look forward to new challenges.”

“Rick has a unique perspective on sports in Mississippi,” Anklam said. “We are excited to make his columns available free at Mississippitoday.org.”

Cleveland, long-time sports editor and columnist of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, is the most decorated sports journalist in Mississippi history, having won numerous national, regional and state sports writing awards.

In 2011 he became the first sports writer to win the prestigious Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. In 2000, he won the Mississippi Press Association’s Distinguished Mississippian Award. He has been voted Mississippi’s Sports Writer of the Year a record 10 times and has authored four books.

Ron Winford, president of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors said: “When the museum lost its first and only director, Michael Rubenstein, in late 2011, we knew he would be difficult to replace. The opportunity to hire Rick Cleveland was a no-brainer. The museum has never been stronger. Rick is leaving it a better place than he found it. On behalf of the Board of Directors: Thank-you, Rick.”

In June, Cleveland began writing a weekly sports column for Mississippi Today, running on Friday afternoons.

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