Newton County-Newton rivalry on hold
By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
Dec. 11, 2001
One of the area's top sports rivalries Newton and Newton County has been shelved for the time being.
The Newton County School Board voted unanimously Monday night to sever all ties with Newton in athletic events. The motion passed 4-0.
Newton County had cancelled a basketball game with Newton in mid-November, but Monday's vote also means that Newton County will have to buy out the second year of a two-year football contract. This year's game at Newton County brought in gate receipts of over $12,000. The 2002 contest was slated for Newton. The buyout clause is $2,000.
Hard feelings began when Newton County was turned in to the Mississippi High School Activities Association for allegedly using players from outside its school district.
In the Nov. 21 edition of The Newton Record, Newton Municipal Schools superintendent Dr. Mina Bryan said Newton did not report Newton County to the MHSAA.
Monday night, Bryan said that, "We have investigated and turned in a list of more than three or four children to Newton County," that did not meet residence requirements. They were not necessarily athletes.
Steve Williams of the state Department of Education recently visited the Decatur school and found that two students, both in elementary school, were not in compliance with residence requirements. Both will attend Newton County Academy in the spring, Pierce said.
None of the athletes were deemed to not be in compliance, however.
The ill will apparently began in September, when the activities association was notified of a possible violation on the Cougar football team.
The player in question transferred to Newton County from Newton County Academy in March. He lives in the Heidelberg district, but by living more than 30 miles from that school, the junior can attend either Newton or Newton County.
Another player's parents had bought a house in Decatur, but were still living in Newton while they remodeled the recent purchase. The sophomore's parents had signed an affadavit stating they lived in Newton County's district, clearing Newton County with the MHSAA.
Bryan said she understood Newton County's decision.
Pierce left an opening for teams from the two schools to meet in a basketball tournament, for example, as long as neither was the host school for the event.
Newton County School Board president Glenda Barrett said prior to the vote that one of the Newton City board members had called her about meeting as two boards without superintendents and without lawyers present. The Newton County board agreed to a meeting with their counterparts in the future to discuss the situation, but voted to eliminate competition between the two schools for now.
Both football coaches are making plans to fill the open date.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 693-1551, ext. 3235.