East Central Community College Athletic Director Paul Mixon didn’t realize how much he missed just getting out of the office to catch a baseball or softball game on campus.
Now with spring sports cancelled, Mixon has to report to his office and try to figure out when East Central might get on the athletic fields again.
“From the latest communication with the national office, I know they are in communication with the NCAA and the NAIA to see what they are going to do,” Mixon said. “I don’t think you are going to see one group do one thing and another group do something else. I think they will all do the same thing and go back at the same time.”
Like the rest of Mississippi’s community colleges, the East Central campus is closed to students and the public while still conducting classes online.
“We will follow the lead of Gov. Tate Reeves and the national association,” Mixon said. “As things get loosened, I think it will give us room to do more as an association. But the opposite is true as well, if restrictions continue to be imposed on large groups, it’s going to make holding sports events more difficult.”
Next on the agenda for East Central athletics is football along with men’s and women’s soccer, which play in the fall.
As for football, the impact of COVID-19 started early as the ECCC staff wasn’t able to hold any tryouts for high school seniors, which is usually a place where football coach Ken Karcher mines for talent.
“I think you are already seeing it have an impact on the season,” Mixon said. “We have a veteran coaching staff so that’s a positive for them. We are restricted in what we can do with them but traditionally we have our football players on campus in July and they live on campus and work out. It’s a team bonding time for them and that’s important when there is so much turnover. But I think that is very much in question at this point. There is some hope that we can have athletes on campus in July but there is nothing concrete right now.”
Mixon said there have been several options tossed about if football is delayed.
“If preseason is cut short, it might push the season back,” Mixon said. “There has been talk of not playing a championship game, bowl games or playoffs. There have been talks of shortening the season like they did in Hurricane Katrina. There has been talks of sticking with the start date but reducing the number of games we play.”
Mixon said there is the possibility that facilities like the school’s walking track and tennis courts could open up over the summer.
“If we open up the campus in July, we would probably open up those facilities,” Mixon said. “May and June classes will all be held online but there is a possibility that we may have some mixed classes which would allow us to open up the walking track and tennis courts.”
The NJCAA also granted another year of eligibility to spring sports players. Of the 25 sophomores that play spring sports, Mixon said about eight to 10 of those were going to replay their softball season.