High school basketball practice began today but will the referee - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

High school basketball practice began today but will the referees be officiating games?

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Pascagoula head coach Ronald Norman ran his Panthers through the teams first practice session on Monday.

He's hoping that when jamboree games tip-off 12 days from Monday...local referees will be in that number.

A couple of weeks ago the Gulf Coast Officials Association voted to strike. The reason? Local referees have received two $5 pay increases over the past the past ten years and they want pay raises.

Norman said, "They haven't had a raise I guess in a couple of years according to what I've been told, but again I think cooler heads will prevail.  We have great leadership here in Mississippi and I think both sides will come to a beneficial agreement."

Joe Davis is the Gulf Coast Officials Association President.  He says local refs are paid well below the pay scale of neighboring states.

The GCOA referees make 40 dollars a game and no travel expenses are included.

"State of Louisiana basketball officials get $55 a game, plus travel up to $125. Alabama gets a flat rate of $118, "stated Davis.

Davis says the Gulf Coast Officials Association initially requested a$15 per game increase.  The Mississippi High School Activities Association offered the referees a $5 per game increase.  The GCOA came back with another offer.

Davis said, "Our counter-proposal was 5 additional dollars per night with 5 additional dollars per years moving forward for the next three years which would technically put us at $110 that we're looking for or $55 a game."

The GCOA has taken two votes.  The first one was 42 to 2 in favor of a strike.  The second vote was 38 to 7, again in favor of a strike.

While the GCOA is slated to meet on Wednesday, Davis doesn't expect another vote. He says the state has not negotiated with them in good faith.

"Actually most of what we've got from this is more threats than negotiations instead of trying to settle this situation, "stated Davis.

Davis says the Mississippi High School Activities Association has told the Gulf Coast Officials Association ..if they go out on strike..the MHSAA will use officials from Louisiana and Alabama and other associations from within Mississippi.

Davis will let WLOX know if any new developments take place.

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