AISA to choose Troy or Selma
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2000
for championship site
By TIM REEVES / JARED FELKINS
The Selma Times-Journal
In a recent move, the Alabama Independent Schools Association decided to hold all three classes’ football championship games in a central location. The move is a mirror of what the public school association did four years ago, in developing the Super 6 in Birmingham.
The only decision left is where to hold the event. That has sparked a bit of controversy between coaches, head masters and the association and placed the City of Selma in a battle with the City of Troy, the two cities left in the running to host the games.
"If the coaches were to have a vote in this matter I don’t think they would pick Selma," said Dr. John Niblett. "A number of the coaches have told me they don’t want to have it here in Selma because they consider the stadium to be a home field for Morgan.
"I think it is kind of silly because Morgan doesn’t play any of their games there."
One of the coaches against the games being held in Selma is Mobile Christian head coach Rick Whittle, who by the way has been knocked out of the playoffs the previous two years by Morgan Academy at its home stadium of Senator Field.
"I’m in favor of having the games in a central location but I think it should be moved around," said Whittle. "There are a number of good sites in the state. Montgomery has the Cramton Bowl, Mobile has Ladd Stadium and Birmingham has Legion Field. And of course, you have Selma with Memorial Stadium.
"Selma has a lot of other AISA events in Selma and some of us just get tired of going to Selma for everything."
The final decision on where the game will be held, according to association sources, has come down to either Selma or Troy. AISA Athletic Director John Faircloth has already met with the Selma City Council and Mayor Joe T. Smitherman. Faircloth has scheduled a meeting with a Troy leadership group on Thursday.
"It will be a big dollar thing for either city," said Faircloth. "We like Selma because the entire city has been good to us."
Selma currently is the host city for the AISA Final Four Baseball tournament, the AISA State Track championships and the annual all-star football game. All three events have already been scheduled for next year.
"I don’t understand why they are thinking of any other town but Selma," Niblett said. "The City of Selma has always supported the AISA and that is proven by the number of people who come out to the events. Last year’s AISA all-star game had the largest crowd it has ever had."
Niblett does admit that the decision may also come down to money and which city will make the association more money will host the site.
"It is all a money decision," said Niblett. "When you can guarantee each school who plays in the championship game a big pay day then it will be held there. Selma should host the event because of the central location, but if you had to make the decision on facilities then there is no doubt it should be in Troy."
Morgan Academy may have the most to lose of any AISA school by the decision to host the championships in one site. The Senators have hosted a championship football game seven out of the last ten years, winning six titles.
"I voted against it [a central site]," said Morgan Academy head master Dr. Christopher DeBuzna. "I think if you win a state championship you should be able to host it. That should be a reward."
Whittle admits teams that would end up hosting a game would be the most disgruntled with a central location.
"It is kind of hard right now because we haven’t played the season yet," said Whittle. "The team that would have hosted the game would be the most unhappy, but the team that would have traveled it wouldn’t really matter."
The final decision on the site would be announced near the middle of June by the AISA.
As it stands right now, the coaches and the AISA have worked out a deal where this event will have a two-year test, with a finalized decision in two years.
"If there proves not to be enough interest then we will go back to the way it was," said Faircloth. "We are looking forward to having this two year window."
The championships, whereever played, will be held Friday, Nov. 17. The first game will be held at noon, with the second starting at 4 p.m. The final game will kick off at 8 p.m.