HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg senior guard Tiaria Griffin is widely considered to be one of the best and most sought-after basketball recruits in the state. She's currently being pursued by a handful of SEC teams, as well as some Big East and Conference-USA programs, but she almost missed out on the opportunity to play her senior season.
After finishing her junior year, Griffin moved with her mother from Monticello to Hattiesburg and transferred from Lawrence County High School to Hattiesburg High School. According to Hattiesburg School Superintendent James Bacchus, Griffin and her mother officially moved into the Hattiesburg school district on June 1.
The Mississippi High School Activities Association requires that an athlete be a resident of their school's district at least 60 days prior to the start of the school year. Such being the case, the MSHAA required proof of Griffin's residency to solidify her eligibility and requested the proper documentation, which included the utility bill.
According to Bacchus, the MHSAA determined not enough utilities had been used to prove residency. Hence, Tiaria was declared ineligible by the association, even though her mother signed the lease in May, and both moved into the school district 68 days prior to the start of the school year.
In response, Griffin's mother brought her case to the courts, after which the courts granted Tiaria an injunction on Sept. 30, which states she is allowed to play her games. Griffin played in the tigers' first game on Nov. 4 at McComb, and scored 19 points in her teams 78-38 win.
On Nov. 7, the following Monday, the MHSAA placed Hattiesburg's girls basketball team on probation for the remainder of the regular season. Bacchus also said that the probation will last "until the end of the regular season.
"(They) can play in post-season play, but if she (Tiaria Griffin) continues to play, than more penalties will be handed down." The handing down of further penalties is pending the litigation.
In regards to the association's decision, Bacchus added, "We're really confused about it. When things are inconsistent, it really creates concern for us. We're supporting the mother with her position with the court case."
While the courts have advised all parties involved not to comment, Hattiesburg Public Schools Communication Director Jas N Smith released this statement:
"The court has entered an order which allows Tiara & Steven Griffin to be eligible for participation in athletic activities at HHS. Hattiesburg High School will follow the court's directive until we are instructed by the court that they cannot participate in athletic activities at Hattiesburg High."
WDAM will stay updated with this story as it develops.