Harlan County High School fans enjoy arguably the best high school basketball gymnasium in the state – the rest of the 13th Region will now get that opportunity, as the school was selected to host the 2013 regional tournament.
“I want to thank (boys basketball coach) Mike Jones, (athletic director) Freddie McCreary and (Harlan County Schools Superintendent) Tim Saylor for all their help in this,” Howard said. “We wanted to bring this tournament to the people of Harlan County and I am glad we had the opportunity to do that.”
Kentucky High School Athletic Director Julian Tackett decided to award next year’s tournament to the school after a review of the school’s facilities. In a letter from Tackett to 13th Region Board of Regents Chairman Larry Warren, Tackett outlined his decision.
According to a letter from Tackett, at the time the decision was made to host the 13th Region Tournament at the Corbin Arena: “the schools were in strong agreement at that time to request to this office that the tournament be set at the new Corbin Expo Center. There were several primary reasons for that recommendation including: The ability to house the sessions of the tournament without having to split into multiple sessions very often; The ability to park in close proximity to the event without having to try and find parking at remote locations; The availability of easily accessible entrances and exits, as well as areas for hospitality and enough locker rooms for all involved, including teams and officials; The ability to hold both boys and girls tournaments at the same venue to ensure equivalent treatment; and the financial benefits for each school were guaranteed with no obligation of the membership. It is my recollection that the schools had a guarantee of $1500 due to sponsorship sales and the non-participating school guarantee was strong as well.”
The primary reason for housing the tournament at The Arena was a financial guarantee. Tackett’s letter stated: “There were other advantages, but these were the primary ones that were mentioned. I think the overwhelming sentiment at that time was that with the financial guarantee, until such a time as a comparable facility was built meeting those main conditions, the tournament would remain in Corbin at the Civic Center. There was no other existing facility that successfully met all of those conditions, but the door remained open to the potential building of a new facility. However, it was also noted that the agreement was to be year to year, to be evaluated based on all circumstances.”
Tackett’s letter also stated:
“At the time of the decisions regarding the tournament, the building and final plans for the new school in Harlan County were only in progress. At this point in time, the school is complete, and has successfully hosted the 52nd district tournament in a similar format to the doubleheaders, etc. that would occur in regions. I have also personally been involved in a site inspection of the facility, and reviewed with school personnel, yourself, and other region representatives, the logistics and arrangements were the tournament to be held at the new Harlan County gymnasium. In addition, we must note that this facility was also built by and to benefit, the general public through school dollars, and there is an obligation when such construction is done to allow their utilization for events for public good.”
The letter went on to state: “After completing this review, it is clear that the new gym at Harlan County meets all of the specifications that were desired when the tournament was awarded originally to the new civic center in Corbin as detailed above. 2013 is also the time in the rotation when the schools of the 52nd district would recommend the site to this office. Provided that the representatives of the 52nd district are able to solicit and guarantee the revenue to the member schools, it is my intention to assign the regional basketball tournament for 2013 to Harlan County High School.”