THS track runner sidelined by MHSAA rule; Family plans appeal

Appeal will be heard this week at MHSAA headquarters asking the board to reverse their decision

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – He is the fastest freshman in the nation in the 1600-meter race, but Tupelo High School Freshman Andrew Brown will not be competing in Mississippi for the rest of the outdoor track season.

“As someone who enjoys the sport of running, all I want to do is do what I love and compete against the best runners in the country,” Andrew Brown said.

That is exactly what Andrew Brown did when he ran at the 2024 New Balance Indoor nationals in Boston.

andrew brownAndrew Brown qualified for the invitational meet. But his participation in that meet prompted an anonymous complaint to the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

The MSHAA ruled Andrew Brown ineligible for the rest of the season. This is the rule they cited: “A student who is a member of an MHSAA school team shall not participate in any event in a meet or a contest as an unattached contestant against a high school team, a junior high school team, a collegiate team, a club team or other unattached individuals in that same sport.  One individual shall constitute a team in indoor and outdoor track and field.”

The MHSAA chose not to comment on this story but referenced the rule they say was violated.

Tupelo High School removed Andrew Brown from its track team roster when it learned about the complaint and the MHSAA’s decision.

Andrew Brown’s dad, Jim Brown, said he has heard from coaches at schools across the state who say the decision should be reversed.

“They’re outraged about this, they want more clarity on this rule, they think it needs to be amended, or eliminated. Because what it does it effectively holds back star runners, athletes from opportunities on the national level where they really want to showcase their skills and where college coaches are able to see them perform,” Jim Brown said.

Scott Brown, no relation to Andrew Brown’s family, coached track at Tupelo High School for years.

He said this was the first time he had ever heard of the MHSAA’s rule being enforced. In fact, Andrew Brown ran in the Adidas Track Nationals last year without any punishment., an online running news source, claims Mississippi athletes have violated the rule in the past without any sanctions.

“The rule is not applied evenly. If they’re going to do that to Andrew, there are a bunch of athletes in the past they should enforce the rule on. They will say, ‘Well, someone has to turn them in.’  If you are the head of track in the state of Mississippi, you should be looking at Mile Split and know what kids are doing,” Scott Brown said.

The Brown family along with their attorney, Jay Weir, have appealed the decision. On Thursday, Jim Brown will go before the MHSAA board and will argue the rule is being applied unfairly and unevenly. He will also contend that the rule, as it is interpreted, does not allow Mississippi athletes to compete at the highest level in their sports.

The Tupelo School District did not want to comment on the story with the appeal coming up. The appeal hearing is set for 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 4 in Clinton.

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