Co-Lin’s baseball coach goes by book

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 27, 2005

Keith Case believes in going by the book. In this case, theCopiah-Lincoln Community College baseball coach encountered twobooks.

On the right side is the National Junior College AthleticAssociation’s handbook for sports activities. On the left side isthe Mississippi Association of Community/Junior Collegeshandbook.

In the middle is a large, gray area regarding rules, regulationsand eligibility requirements in the MACJC. Case admits his errorand feels remorse.

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According to the MACJC, Case must endure a 10-game suspension atthe start of the 2005 baseball season. That’s five doubleheaders ifyou are keeping count.

Case’s Wolves make their 2005 debut Feb. 9, at East CentralCommunity College in Decatur. Officially, he won’t be there.Pitching coach Bryan Nobile will direct the team through that game,plus the next nine games.

“I’ve been in this league for 13 years,” said Case. “I try torun my program in the right way. Nothing like this has everhappened. I feel embarrassed because of it.”

Case’s consternation is understandable. Certainly, hisfrustration is expected.

The story began early last year. Three of Case’s players,pitchers Lance Deville and Joel Hurt, and outfielder Ryan Williams,under went surgery to repair injuries. Deville and Williams bothhad shoulder surgery. Hurt had surgery on a broken ankle.

Under NJCAA and MACJC rules, the young men were entitled to amedical hardship. In other words, they would be granted anotheryear of eligibility.

“The national (NJCAA) rule says if a player is hurt and theinjury is documented, coaches aren’t required to submit a hardshipform,” said Case. By contrast, the MACJC requires Hardship Oneforms to be submitted four weeks before the first game in anysport.

Case followed the national rule but the MACJC had a differentset. That’s when the problem arose.

When Case contacted the state office, he was informed that theforms had not been submitted four weeks before the start of the2004 baseball season. In other words, the state office saidDeville, Williams and Hurt would lose a year of eligibility.


Case and Co-Lin athletic director Gwyn Young appealed the rulingto the MACJC’s athletic director executive committee in June. Afterhearing the case, they overturned the ruling set forth by MACJCstate commissioners Randall Bradberry and Jim Southward, bothex-football coaches.

In turn, the state commissioners appealed the decision to theMACJC board of presidents. The president’s council met with Caseand Young in July, proclaiming their support for Bradberry andSouthward.

“I told them to punish me, fine me,” said Case. “But don’t takea year of eligibility away from these young men.”

Expressing their doctoral wisdom, the council saddled Case witha 10-game suspension. There would be no appeal.

Baseball coaches ask for changes

A clamor arose among MACJC baseball coaches. They submitted arequest that the MACJC athletic directors pass a resolution toaccept the NJCAA rules for medical hardships in all sports. It wassupposed to be forwarded to the presidents council, but died forlack of a motion.

Looking at and interpreting the MACJC handbook can be asdifficult as translating the Iraqi language. There are numerousgray areas.

“Coach Young presented himself very well,” said Case. “Webrought up several examples of what the handbook said and didn’tsay.”

For example, if a baseball player is injured sliding into secondbase during a regular-season game, there is no time limit onsubmitting hardship papers.

And, if the MACJC refuses to grant an extra year of eligibilityunder the medical hardship case, the player can abide by thenational rules, transfer to another college and not lose a year ofeligibility.

Go figure.

Obviously, it wouldn’t be right to punish the Co-Lin players forsomething Case wasn’t aware of. Case was more than willing to paythe price and swallow the medicine, no matter how bitter the taste.The lesson is learned.

Writer to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER,P.O. BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or