Former Southern Miss coach Turk dies at 71

HATTIESBURG, Mississippi — Former Southern Mississippi basketball coach M.K. Turk died on Friday morning. He was 71.

Turk led the Golden Eagles for 20 seasons from 1976 to 1996 and finished with a school-record 301 victories, two NCAA tournament appearances and six NIT appearances, including one NIT championship. The school confirmed Turk’s death on Friday.

He’s the only Southern Miss coach to lead the program to back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances.

Turk was also the athletic director and basketball coach at Copiah-Lincoln Junior College (Miss.) and an assistant coach at Memphis before coming to Southern Miss.

Current Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall said Turk “is by far and away the best basketball coach to have ever graced Southern Miss and always will be. But more than that, he was an amazing friend and person.”

Sanderson Farms Championship hires new tournament director, Steve Jent

Steve Jent_ HeadshotCentury Club Charities, host organization for the Sanderson Farms Championship, selected Steve Jent to lead the event as the new Tournament Director. The hire comes on the heels of Sanderson Farms announcing its three-year extension through the 2016-17 PGA TOUR FedExCup season, and the move of the event from the July date it has held the past three years back to the fall during which the event was played from 1999-2010.

“We are thrilled to have Steve Jent lead us into the future with our new title sponsor, Sanderson Farms,” said Century Club Charities Board President John Lang. “Steve’s success in driving significant revenue increases at the Wyndham Championship and his wealth of knowledge from working with a new title sponsor, and helping to grow the Wyndham Championship into the successful event it is today, made him an ideal candidate for our new Tournament Director.”

UPDATE — Why is the history-depraved Smithville principal such a chicken?

Sports Equipment on WhiteFrom a Clarion Ledger report, the Mississippi High School Activities Association’s 13 private schools won’t be going anywhere, at least not anytime soon.

A proposal aimed at banning private schools from the association stalled Thursday morning, when members of the MHSAA Executive and Legislative Council failed to motion the proposal forward.

“There was no discussion,” MHSAA executive director Don Hinton said. “It was brought up as a proposal to be acted upon, but it was never motioned to be brought to a vote.

“I wouldn’t expect this proposal to come back up anytime soon.”

» Read entire story here …




Original story from Wednesday ….


I started hearing rumors of this back in the summer when I read a story in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal about Northeast Mississippi coaches having voted 40-3 to expel private schools from the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

Now, I read the MHSAA’s overall legislative council is expected to vote Thursday on the expulsion of 13 private schools from the association. Smithville principal Chad O’Brian, who introduced the proposal at the District 1 fall meeting, according to the Daily Journal, says the schools have an unfair advantage in recruiting students.

Apparently, a Calhoun City coach agrees with the Smithville principal.

“I think all the coaches in the state are on the same page with this proposal,” Calhoun City coach Daren Coffey said. “I hope this time we can get it done for the sake of the kids and the coaches.”


“Among the coaching community, there’s felt to be a lot of discrepancies over who can transfer and when they’re eligible,” O’Brian told the Clarion-Ledger.

O’Brian went on to tell the Ledger that when his school played Greenville’s St. Joseph Catholic School in the baseball playoffs last year, some of that school’s players lived in Arkansas.

“They play for the Mississippi High School Activities Association,” O’Brian said. “By name and definition, it’s unfair.”

There sure is a bunch of chicken to go with that whine, isn’t there?

Can’t they take a little competition? Shouldn’t we be teaching our kids that competition is a good thing?

I hate to pull the “way back” card, but here goes.

Way back when I was in junior high and high school in Cleveland, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on Greenville St. Joe, and Arkansas kids were playing for the Fighting Irish then. So what. We viewed that as an easy win.

In respect to the residency argument, however, according to the 2012-2013 School Audits Comprehensive Annual Report from the Mississippi Student Information System, 96 percent of the public school districts failed to verify student residency.

Therefore, how can anyone make the claim that one school is allowing out-of-district students to participate in athletics when just 4 percent of all schools have verified residency.

But give me a break.

There needs to be a little perspective here.

We need to remember that most of the 13 schools on the chopping block were the private schools that, 50 years ago, were willing to take the heat, and a lot of it, for allowing African Americans to attend to their schools as well as participate in athletics. At the time, most private schools were being created for the expressed purpose of keeping African Americans out.

Fifty years ago, most of the private schools in question couldn’t have played against the schools of, what is now, the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, even if they had wanted.

We should be applauding the Greenville St. Josephs of the world for helping Mississippi to progress to be a part of the real American melting pot.

Instead, principals, like Chad O’Brian in Smithville, would rather throw history and progress out the window because he, and people like him, can’t take the heat.

You afraid of losing to schools like Greenville St. Joe, St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis or Cathedral in Natchez?

Maybe these principals need a little history lesson and then they can tell their coaches to go out and coach-up their boys and girls a little more.

» MBJ Editor Ross Reily can be reached at or 601-364-1018.


Can new AD McGillis turn things around at USM?

Southern_Miss_LogoThe University of Southern Mississippi football team suffered yet another humbling defeat last weekend when they met the University of Arkansas, falling 24-3. The Golden Eagles have a serious “0-fer” going after losing every game last year and the first three games this year. They have been outscored 102-31 so far in 2013. Dreadful.

The mounting losses have been hard to stomach for a football program that ranks 33rd in all-time winning percentage among all Division I football programs. (For reference, Ole Miss ranks 57th; Mississippi State, 101st.)

Yet, this losing skid is the least of USM’s problems it seems.

According to new athletic director Bill McGillis, less than two months on the job, Southern Miss’ athletic facilities need improvements. Serious improvements. Costly improvements

How many Southern Miss facilities need help? “Every one of them,” he says.

It’s obviously going to take a lot of planning — and money — to get USM athletics back to the competitive product of the past.

“We will have a well- thought-out, well-crafted, very specific strategic plan developed over the course of the rest of the year for achieving the things we want to achieve here,” he said. “I will be diving in all fall, identifying our greatest needs, what opportunities are here, and then the game plan for getting there.”

The plan might be easier to pull together than the funding. The state budget is tight, and last October it was announced that USM’s athletic department owes the university more than $1.2 million for deficits it ran in recent fiscal years, and the department predicted a shortfall of at least $1 million for 2012-13

It sounds like McGillis has a steep climb ahead of him, but perhaps he is just the guy for the job.

McGillis previously served as executive associate athletic director at South Florida. Before that, he was athletic director at Evansville. He has helped oversee major upgrades and the new construction of a long list of athletic facilities and venues.

In 2009, he helped spearhead a $69-million renovation of South Florida’s Athletics District that included the construction of six new venues.

Let’s hope he can work similar magic in the Hub City. Getting Southern Miss back to winning ways transcends records and titles. It is vastly important to the greater Hattiesburg area’s businesses. As USM’s football has tumbled, so has the number of fans showing up with their wallets and looking to spend to have a good time.

So, everyone should be pulling for McGillis. The Golden Eagles have to soar again — the investment is a must. Losing games is one thing; losing business is another.

C Spire sponsoring Champions Tour golf tournament on Coast

cspireA Mississippi telecommunications company has stepped forward to sponsor a professional golf tournament on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Ridgeland-based C Spire Wireless has signed a three-year deal to be the presenting sponsor of the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic golf tournament, part of the Champions Tour that features golfers 50 years and older.

It will mark the fifth year for the tournament when it tees off next March.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We’re very pleased to step up our involvement in this tournament and to continue to support the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which has been so important to the success of our company for so many years,” Kevin Hankins, C Spire’s COO, said in a statement.

In addition to being the presenting sponsor, C Spire will continue to sponsor a pro-am tournament for the event, which is played at the Fallen Oak Golf Club in Saucier just north of Biloxi. Officials said C Spire would contribute millions of dollars, but didn’t give an exact amount.

The three-day tournament has been sponsored by a consortium of casinos and other groups, and officials said 14 other partners will continue to participate in a consortium.

State and local governments had kicked in money, and BP PLC contributed $665,000 in 2013 as part of efforts to improve tourism on the Gulf Coast following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.