Mississippi public high school athletics and fine arts events have been placed on hold at least through March 29 and until further notice due of the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Mid-South Association of Independent Schools, the governing body of private schools in the state, has curtailed athletic competition for this week and will re-assess on a week by week basis.

The Mississippi High Schools Activities Association’s suspension of activities includes both competition and practices. The suspension applies regardless of whether or not a school is open or closed during this timeline, MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton said. The MAIS suspension of athletics applies to competition only. Practices are currently allowed, MAIS Director of Activities Less Triplett said.

The executive committee of the MHSAA made its decision during a conference call Monday morning. The executive committee is made up of 15 school administrators from around the state.

Contingency plans for continuing regular-season competition are being formulated and will be announced by the MHSAA in the future. A decision on whether or not to continue spring contests and activities will be made as soon as possible in the best interests of the student-athletes, coaches, administrators and communities, the association said in a statement.

“We urge our member schools and their communities to take every possible precaution to remain safe and healthy,” said Hinton. “MHSAA leadership is working diligently to adjust to this rapidly evolving situation and will share updates as soon as possible.”

“We’re in unchartered territory right now,” Triplett said. “I can’t predict where we’ll be a week from now. There’s no way to know.”

Chris Baughman, head coach of perennial baseball powerhouse Oxford, said he hasn’t dealt with anything like this in 15 years at Oxford, 10 as head coach.

“It’s tough, we’re on hold,” Baughman said. “Obviously, we hope that things get better and the MHSAA can find a way to get us some semblance of a season if we’re able to get back to school. For the time being, we just hope everybody remains safe and takes the appropriate precautions.

“It’s really hard for our seniors. I’ve got 11 of them and only two of them have signed to continue their baseball careers after high school,” Baughman said. “So they don’t know if they played their last game of baseball they’ll ever play or not. That’s tough.”

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.