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Mississippi Association of Independent Schools names Hall of Fame inductees

JACKSON, MISS– The Mississippi Association of Independent School (MAIS), formerly known as the Mississippi Assocation of Private Schools (MAPS)  has announced their 2016 Hall of Fame inductees. 

Jim Eidt

Teacher, Coach at Delta Academy and Cathedral School, High School Principal, Headmaster of Delta Academy, Desoto School, Starkville Academy, Chamberlain-Hunt Academy, and Jackson (AL) Academy

Years of Service in MAIS:  27

Years of Service in Education:  46

Jiim Eidt, courtesy of the MAIS
Jiim Eidt, courtesy of the MAIS

Jim Eidt was born October 29, 1936 in Natchez, Mississippi. He attended Natchez Cathedral Schools for 12 years, graduating in 1954. He went on to the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Memphis on football scholarships. After a stint in the Navy, Jim returned to Delta State University and continued his college football career. Jim graduated from Delta State in 1962 with a BSE in Social Studies. In 1971 he also earned his MSE in Secondary Administration from Delta State. Over the years, he continued his educational training, earning credits from Ole Miss, Mississippi College, Delta State and the University of Alabama.

During his years with the MPSA/MAIS, Jim served the association in many ways. He served on the Executive Committee from 1976 – 1982, was President of the Administrative Council in 1980 and was on the Alignment Committee from 1994 – 1996. He was also on the Accreditation Committee in 1994, the Eligibility Committee in 1998 and the Athletic Affairs Committee in 1999.

Benny McLendon

Coach, Athletic Director and Official at Humphreys Academy, Manchester Academy and Deer Creek School

MAIS Years of Service:  40 Years

Years of Service in Education:  45

03 Benny McLendon
Benny McLendon, courtesy MAIS

Benny M. McLendon Sr. was born on January 7, 1952. Benny was the youngest of 12 kids of J.S. and Alice McLendon. He graduated from Belzoni High School in 1970.  He began his coaching career at the age of 19 where he coached and mentored boys for 20 years in Dixie Youth Baseball.

In 1991, Benny started his MAIS coaching career at Humphreys Academy in Belzoni, Mississippi as Head Baseball and Assistant Football Coach. In 19 years at Humphreys Academy, he made the playoffs 15 times in baseball. In 1997 he became the Head Football Coach. In 12 years he amassed a record of 92-56 with 6 playoff appearances. In 2009, Humphreys Academy dedicated the athletic fields as the Benny McLendon Sports Complex. Benny was blessed to coach his oldest son, Mike, for two years while at Humphreys Academy. Overall Benny was blessed to have coached young people in Humphreys County for a total of 39 years.

Steve Rives

Teacher, Coach, Headmaster at Hanging Moss Academy, McClure Academy and Jackson Prep

Years of Service in MAIS: 10 years

Years of service in Education: 44 years

Steve Rives, courtesy MAIS
Steve Rives, courtesy MAIS

Steve Rives was born on August 18, 1950 in Newton, Mississippi. His family moved to Jackson where he attended school. He graduated in 1968 from Wingfield High School where he was All-State in basketball.  He attended Hinds Junior College and Mississippi College on basketball scholarships,  graduating  from Mississippi College with a B.S. Ed. degree in 1972 and a M.Ed. Degree in administration in 1976.

Rives began his coaching career in 1972 and had an MPSA record of 302 wins and 34 losses. His first year was at Hanging Moss Academy, where his team had a record of 18-5. The next year, in 1973, his McCluer Academy team had a 28-5 record. In 1974, he moved to Jackson Prep and coached there until 1982. His Prep teams had an overall record of  256- 24, with his 1974-75 and 1979-80 teams finishing the year undefeated at 34-0 and 38-0, respectively.

Pete McCleskey

Teacher, Coach, Headmaster at Jeff Davis Academy & Kemper Academy and Indianola Academy.

Years of Service in MAIS: 43 years

Years of service in Education: 43 years

04 Pete McCleskey BW
Pete McCleskey, courtesy MAIS

Pete’s first coaching job was at Kemper Academy in 1971 – his salary was $5,700.  After teaching and coaching five years at Kemper, he moved to Jefferson Davis Academy near Meridian for the next eight years as Headmaster and Coach.

In 1986, Pete came back to Kemper Academy as Coach and Headmaster. His team won the Class A Overall Softball Slow-Pitch Championship in 2004.  His 8 Man Football Team won the 8 Man Overall Football Championship in 2010.

In Pete’s own words “I can’t express what these years in MPSA have meant to me. If I had to say what the most pleasing thing I have experienced while working I would have to say it was the night I handed my son Marc and my daughter Ashley their diplomas. It made it all worthwhile.”


Paul Ott Carruth, Jr.

Football Player at Parklane Academy, University of Alabama, Birmingham Stallions, Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs

Years in MPSA/MAIS: 7 years

Paul Ott Carruth Jr., courtesy MAIS
Paul Ott Carruth Jr., courtesy MAIS

Paul Ott Carruth, was born July 12, 1961 to Paul Ott Carruth, Sr. and the late Alberta Futch Carruth.  He attended Parklane Academy in McComb, from 1973-1980.  He started his high school football career as a sophomore quarterback and was voted Most Improved Player at the end of an 11-1 season.  His junior and senior years, he was the team’s MVP and All District.  He finished his high school career playing in the MPSA All Star game and being voted MVP of that game. He also received All-State, All-South and All-American honors. He was named Player of the Year 1979 (Mr. Football) for the State of Mississippi and finished his senior season with 1500 yards on 150 carries and scored 24 touchdowns in 9 games.

In 1980 he signed with The University of Alabama under the legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and began his college career playing in four games as a freshman.  As a sophomore he was a starter for the 1981 SEC Champions and Coach Bryant’s record setting 315th victory.  He continued his Junior year as a starter and averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored the first and last TDs of the regular season in 1982 which was Coach Bryant’s last.  Later that year Coach Bryant passed away and Paul had the honor to be a Pall Bearer at his funeral.

Coach Ray Perkins became the coach for Alabama in what would have been Paul’s senior year.  He earned the “Johnny Musso” Most Improved Back award in the spring of 1983, but due to a knee injury on the next to the last play of spring practice he had to miss Perkin’s first season that fall.  In 1984 he came back as a 5th year senior and that season gained more than 1,000 total yards from scrimmage and was Alabama’s leading rusher while he averaged 5.6 yards per carry, and scorer with 11 TDs.  He was elected Permanent Team Captain and Player of the Game for the 1984 Iron Bowl.

He was selected “SEC Back of the Year”, awarded by The Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club. He also earned 2nd Team All-SEC and was selected to the Blue/Gray All Star game where he threw a TD pass to fellow Mississippian Jerry Rice. He then played in the Senior Bowl All-Star game and was voted MVP.

After graduating from The University of Alabama he started his professional football career in the USFL with the Birmingham Stallions and was a teammate of MIAS Hall of Famer, Ken Toler.  The next year he signed with the Green Bay Packers of the NFL where he was a starting fullback from 1986-88.   In 1987 he was the only NFL player to have a rushing TD, a passing TD and a receiving TD during that season.  His final year in the NFL, 1989, was with the Kansas City Chiefs and was then forced to retire after a neck injury.

Today Paul resides in Trussville, Alabama with his wife, Lindsey and their three adult daughters who all graduated from The University of Alabama.  He works for McCullough Oil Company, one of the largest gas wholesalers in Alabama and spends most of his extra time with the newest member of their family, Junior Nix, their first grandchild.

Paul is grateful to the MAIS for the many blessings it has brought to his life through friendships with fellow athletes and guidance from dedicated coaches and the honor of playing the game he loves so much.

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