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The debate has finally come to an end with the Union County School District voting 3-2 in favor of moving the varsity football program from county-wide to East Union during its December meeting on Monday night.
District 5 board member Wayne Mahon opened the discussion, bringing a motion on the table for only the varsity program to move to East Union. Each member of the board voiced their respective opinions, citing reasons for and against dissolving the co-op program.
“Personally, I do not see a real risk in asking for two year extension on the independent status,” Johnny Rakestraw of District 4 said. “I don’t see sense of urgency to cut off participation from other schools.”
Rakestraw, along with Buddy Dixon of District 3 were the votes opposed to moving the program, as both feel that more can be done to promote the team and add athletes from the other schools.
“I believe that if we go back to what we did when we started this and encourage more, the numbers will be there,” Dixon said. “I would hate to give up.”
The board was in agreement that they do not want to see the co-op program play in 5A, and again, it was stressed that there is no guarantee the district will receive a two-year extension from the Mississippi High School Activities Association, allowing the team to play as an independent after the 2012 season.
With these factors in mind, the issue went to a vote with Mahon and Mickey Basil of District 2 voting for and Dixon and Rakestraw opposing. With the vote coming down to Terry Cook of District 1, the decision was made to offer the varsity program strictly at East Union.
“I have looked at all of this and have talked with the principals and some of the coaches and people in the public, and it’s mixed just like all of us on this board,” Cook said. “Except for the officials, they do not think that we will have better numbers next year, and with that in mind, I think we need to advance this, and my vote is to move it to East Union.”
Several logistical issues are next to be decided, including additional coaches as well as what to do with the junior high program. It was suggested to move the entire football program to East Union as opposed to keeping the junior high team county-wide, but the board decided to have Coach Scott Duley speak at a later date to weigh the pros and cons and help in the decision.
The board will next meet on Jan. 3, 2012.