Heat order rescinded

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 14, 2007

No practice order declared null and void by Miss. Supreme Court

By Myra Bean

Dr. Ennis Proctor of the Mississippi High School Activities Association broke the news Friday afternoon that coaches in five counties had been waiting 24 hours to hear: the injunction against outside physical activities has been declared null and void by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

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In an unprecedented move, Chancery Court judge Mitchell Lundy, who serves the counties of Desoto, Tate, Panola, Yalobusha, Grenada and Montgomery, issued a temporary restraining order Thursday, August 9, against the school districts in all counties except Grenada to halt “any and all school sponsored activities (i.e. sports related activities) which include physical exertion.”

According to published reports, this was the first order of this kind in the history of the nation.

The MHSAA and the Mississippi Private School Association, along with school districts in the five counties, filed a petition with the Supreme Court Friday morning.

“If it had been completely state wide, it would have had my complete support,” South Panola head football coach Lance Pogue said. “It was not fair to just pick on these few counties.”

The petition cited “there was no pending cause of action and that there were no parties before him, the chancellor, on his own motion, enjoined” the reason stated above.

The petition further cited the trial court’s order reflected no civil cause number and no county of venue.

In other wording of the order, “the petitioners allege that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the temporary restraining order and that the order was entered in violation of Rule 65 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure.”

The time the order was received by the MHSAA was 3:36 p.m. Friday afternoon.

In a memo on the MHSAA web site, Proctor directed the schools to “resume practice and competition immediately as originally scheduled.”

“I urge all school personnel to follow the heat precautions that are in place to insure the health and safety of students,” Proctor further said. “We encourage you to practice as late as possible during the day to avoid the high temperatures. Be sure to check your heat indexes, and do everything you can to keep your athletes hydrated.

“Thank you for your support during this situation,” he added. “Working together we will all continue to look after the well-being of all our students.”

Area coaches had two concerns regarding the original order: (1) the order was not statewide; therefore, their competition had practice as usual; and (2) the order called into question their concern about the welfare of the athletes under their direction.

“Our concern is totally for the kids,” Pogue said. “We are trained in this area. We have a trainer on site. We are on top of things and understand the heat.”

The South Panola football team did not miss a practice, but were able to travel and practice in the Ole Miss indoor facilities. Thus, the team had to use unbudgeted fuel for the two days of trips, plus lost time traveling when they normally were practicing.

South Panola returned to practice on its own field Monday afternoon.

North Delta moved Thursday’s practice inside the gym, which the coaches and players said was hotter than being outside. The gym is enclosed where there is freedom outdoors.

The North Delta softball team had a non-district match with Magnolia Heights cancelled.

The South Panola softball team had two days of practices cancelled. The softball team plays its first game Tuesday.