August 10, 2013 6:45:35 PM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Mississippi State University distanced itself from Randy Pannell, a Ward 6 resident who sharply criticized Mayor Parker Wiseman during Tuesday's board of aldermen meeting for perceived dust-ups with Starkville Parks Commission Chairman Dan Moreland.
Pannell, whose name was originally given to the Dispatch as Randy Pounds by the city, railed on Wiseman Tuesday and threatened to pull out of a potential rugby tournament between Southeastern Conference clubs and send its associated economic stimulation -- an estimated $451,000 based on last year's numbers -- to Tupelo if the mayor continued to criticize Starkville Parks Commission Chairman Dan Moreland through the Dispatch.
Pannell identified himself as MSU's rugby coach, but MSU University Relations Director Sid Salter said Pannell is actually listed in the university's system as an advisor for the club. Pannell, Salter said, is not an MSU employee and is not authorized to speak for the university.
"Rugby is a club sport at MSU, and the coaching staff of the rugby team is volunteer," Salter said. "The gentleman who spoke at the council meeting is not an employee of MSU, nor is he authorized to speak on behalf of MSU. The only people who are authorized to speak on the relationship between MSU and the SEC are our athletic director (Scott Stricklin), (MSU President) Mark Keenum or another designee."
Salter did not offer any further comments on the situation.
Pannell, who openly supported Moreland's work with the Parks system Tuesday, said he was willing to send business to Tupelo if Wiseman continues to criticize the former GOP mayoral candidate in the media.
Montgomery, Ala., previously hosted the tournament, Pannell said, and received approximately $451,000 in business. If Starkville received that same figure from out-of-town visitors on food, beverage and hotel sales, city governance would receive only $9,020 through the 2 percent tax.
"I have a chance here to do something good for the university's rugby team, but I'm tired of the bickering between you (Wiseman) and Dan," Pannell said during the meeting's public comment session.
"I almost pulled out today, Dan, because I'm so tired of you (Wiseman) getting on his butt for doing his job," he continued. "So here's the deal I'm going to make with you, Parker - none of you other guys (the board of aldermen) are going to count. Parker, I guarantee you if you won't say one negative thing about Dan Moreland running that Sportsplex and you keep your little paper puppet over here in line (in reference to a Dispatch reporter) -- no negative comments -- this $451,000 will go into this city's account, will go right here. If you can't do that, I'll take it (and) we'll go to Tupelo. Is that clear?"
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch