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Sasser dismissed at Enterprise; Hux can play

Steve Sasser has been relieved of his softball coaching dutiesat Enterprise. It is a delayed, disciplinary response to aviolation of Mississippi High School Activities Association rulesthat occurred last summer.

Sasser’s dismissal encouraged the MHSAA to declare Enterprisecatcher Karla Beth Hux eligible for her senior softball season thatbegins March 3, against Brookhaven. Hux had been banished from hersenior softball season because she participated in summer workoutswith members of the William Carey University softball team.

“I made a decision based on several factors,” said Enterpriseprincipal Shannon Eubanks, when asked about Sasser’s demotion. “Ibelieved in doing what was best for the program and the students.Coach Sasser will be re-evaluated at the end of the year regardinghis coaching future.

“Our program is still on probation,” noted Eubanks. “We are realexcited and happy that the Mississippi High School ActivitiesAssociation took another look at the situation and made hereligible.”

Sasser has been replaced by the sister/brother tandem of ClarissaBurke and Chad Coon who will coach the Lady Jackets this spring onan interim basis. Coon had been serving as a volunteer assistantwith the program. Burke also had worked with Sasser as an assistantin the past.

“I felt that Burke would be the best choice on a short-term basis,”said Eubanks. Burke was an elementary school teacher in prior yearsand is currently working with the Title I program.

Sasser didn’t seem to mind being the sacrificial lamb because ithelped one of his best players regain her eligibility.

“I was relieved of my coaching duties,” said Sasser. “I take it forgranted that it had to do with Karla Beth (Hux) playingagain.

“I’m just glad that the administration and the MHSAA could come toa compromise so that this young lady could play again.

“I am happy with the decision,” Sasser declared. “Karla Beth hasthe opportunity to finish out her senior year.”

Sasser said he often stressed the importance of team effort andteam unity to his squad. “I have always told the kids that ourprogram is bigger than one person, including me.”

Sasser arrived at Enterprise on Jan. 1,1998. He has been coachingsoftball ever since. He took over the slowpitch program and thenfastpitch. 2009 was the last year for Enterprise to have aslowpitch team.

Sasser said he will continue teaching ninth and eighth gradehistory at Enterprise. “The evaluation will be made at the end ofthe year to see if my contract will be renewed.”

Sasser, 55, has been in the teaching profession for 18 years. “Wetry the very best to put a good team on the field.”

Hux participated in summer workouts with the WCU team members. Sheand Sasser were unaware that rules were violated.

“We misinterpreted the rule and it’s gone downhill from there,”said Sasser. “What we were doing when we were going over there wasthat we were trying to help a young lady get a scholarship.”

Workouts with college players during a school year is prohibited bythe MHSAA.

Sasser said the workout rule was not clearly defined. “The veryfirst page on the MHSAA website states a player can not try out fora community college or a college team until after their high schoolseason (sport) is complete, regular and postseason. It didn’t sayanything about July.”

In Lincoln County, the official school year doesn’t begin until thefirst week in August.

“The statement didn’t specify that the senior season must becompleted,” Sasser pointed out. “We read (understood) that ourseason was over with.”

According to the MHSAA handbook, a senior athlete’s season must becompleted before he/she is eligible to try out for a collegeteam.

“School was not in session,” Sasser pointed out. “Seventeen otherhigh school players were involved,” in the WCU workouts.

Sasser said he considered himself helping out a family and theirdaughter when he drove Hux to a practice session at the WCU campusin Hattiesburg.

“Kyle Hux (Karla’s father) was at work (offshore),” said Sasser.”He asked me to drive his daughter over there. He was going todrive up from New Orleans and meet her there in Hattiesburg. Hedidn’t want Karla Beth making that long drive. I was just trying tohelp the family out.”

Sasser said the Hux family has been supportive of him in thedifficult time. Hux’s wife, Kim, passed away last year after a boutwith cancer.

The MHSAA had declared Hux ineligible in September. It ruled thatshe would be eligible to play other sports, like basketball.

“I am so thankful that Karla Beth can play her senior season,” saidSasser. “I just wish they (MHSAA) would have made that decisionback in September. There would have been a lot less pressure onher.”

Hux plays point guard on the Enterprise basketball team.

MHSAA Executive Director Dr. Ennis Proctor has been theorganization’s progressive leader for 20 years and plans to retirein July. He said Hux is eligible.

“We have reinstated her eligibility,” said Proctor during a Tuesdayafternoon telephone call to the MHSAA headquarters I Clinton.”Through no fault of her own, she was an innocent victim.”

Proctor said MHSAA members must abide by the rules. “Hopefully,everyone will get the message. Everybody tells me she’s a mightyfine girl.”

Enterprise still is on probation regarding softball tournamentsduring the regular season. Proctor said the team would be eligiblefor the state playoffs that begin April 29.

Proctor said he couldn’t comment on Sasser’s dismissal. “Everythingwas taken into consideration. That’s something between the coachand the school.”

Sasser’s Lady Jackets finished 18-8 last season, advancing to theClass 2A state playoffs.

“We have a mature bunch and they should have an outstanding year,”Sasser predicted. Hux, along with pitcher Chynna Coghlan andoutfielder Kaitlin Moak, have signed scholarships withCopiah-Lincoln Community College.

Enterprise is the largest school in Lincoln County, with 879students in grades K-12.