GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - With just 22 days until the start of the high school basketball season, the Gulf Coast Officials Association has decided to go on strike.
The GCOA notified Mississippi High School Activities Association Executive Director Don Hinton of their decision two weeks ago.
Referees are usually assigned to officiate two games per night at a current rate of $40 per game ($80 total). The GCOA originally asked for a $15 per game raise, but the MHSAA would only approve a pay boost of $5 per game.
"We'd even be happy if they met us halfway," GCOA President Joe Davis said. "We currently have a counter offer on the table that would be an additional $5 this year and $5 the next three years."
The GCOA is expected to vote again this Wednesday on whether to keep working during the negotiations. Hinton met with most of the coast high schools' athletic directors Monday as well to let them know of MHSAA's backup plan.
"We're continuing to try to work out the situation," Hinton said. "We plan to continue our games and have our games start on time."
"We trust Don's leadership that we'll get this figured out," Gulfport Athletic Director Bryan Caldwell said. "We'll have to wait and see."
The strike would only affect varsity, junior varsity and middle school basketball games.