May 16, 2017 10:17:18 AM
Oxford School District Superintendent Brian Harvey said Monday that decisions were made following Game 2 of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 5A North State title series between Oxford and New Hope that didn't uphold the school district's standards of "first in class" and that there would be a re-evaluation of what is important about interscholastic athletics.
Harvey's comments came following a post on Facebook surfaced showing members of the Oxford High School baseball team gathered Saturday in front of the "Trojan Country" sign, which is located across the street from the New Hope United Methodist Church at 2503 New Hope Road and banging on the sign. The incident occurred after Oxford defeated New Hope 11-5 to win the MHSAA Class 5A North State title series at Trojan Field, which is located down the street from the church. The win helped two-time reigning Class 5A champion Oxford sweep the best-of-three series and advance to the Class 5A State title series to face Pearl River Central. That series starts at 7 tonight at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
Harvey said Oxford High baseball coach Chris Baughman wasn't on the bus and that assistant baseball coaches were driving the bus and were responsible for the student-athletes on it. He said he had seen the video online and that the actions of those involved weren't what interscholastic athletics are supposed to be about.
"We had a great game. We had two great games with New Hope. It is a great rivalry," Harvey said. "The two schools have played each other for the North Half for the last five years. As far as on the field, it ended the way it should in a manner of mutual respect. Unfortunately, after the game we made some decisions that did not uphold our standards of first in class. For that, we conducted an investigation and that will be addressed with the coaches involved and our team as well."
Oxford is moving up to Class 6A, the largest in the MHSAA, while New Hope is moving down to Class 4A, which means the rivalry, which the teams shared as members of Class 5A, Region 2, likely will end at this season.
Harvey declined due to personnel matters to say if there would be penalties handed out following the completion of the investigation. He also said he couldn't comment about any penalties that might be levied against student-athletes.
"We had the opportunity to end this rivalry and I thought we did in a good way where both teams had mutual respect for each other and that is not what we did, so we have got to go back and re-evaluate what is important," Harvey said. "We all want to win. That comes with competition at the right time, but we have to do that in the right way. We're embarrassed. They are our videos. I am embarrassed by what I saw, and we are taking steps to let our people know it is not going to happen again in any other sport or school-sponsored event.
New Hope High Principal Matt Smith said Monday there was "no noticeable damage" to the sign, but he said he had been in contact with Harvey, Oxford High Principal Bradley Roberson, and the Oxford High athletic director, as well as the MHSAA. He said he was told the actions were unacceptable and that he received reassurance from the administrators at Oxford High the adults involved would be punished.
Smith also said the incident created a "dangerous" situation in which the bus stopped in the parking lot of the New Hope United Methodist Church and then crossed New Hope Road to get to the sign. He said fortunately the incident didn't turn into anything more serious as a result of any involvement from members of the New Hope baseball team or New Hope High students.
New Hope High School baseball coach Lee Boyd declined to comment about the situation. Oxford High Principal Bradley Roberson didn't return a phone call seeking comment.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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