The state’s governing body over high school sports has decided to hold off on a proposal that would block private schools from playing against public teams. The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association—known as the TSSAA—voted 7 to 2 at a legislative council meeting Wednesday morning.
As it sits, privates can compete against public schools in Division I but with a catch. The school may not offer financial aid to its athletes, and it also faces an enrollment multiplier to determine the school’s class, which means that they end up facing larger public schools. Private schools that give financial aid to their players compete in Division II.
Kevin Creasy is the football coach at Trousdale County high school. He has to play against Goodpasture Christian School each year. Creasy argues that private schools can draw across county lines for athletic talent, which gives them a leg up.
“We’ve never brought into the conversation championships. We’ve never brought into the conversation recruiting. All we’re saying is it’s an unlevel playing field.”
Critics of the proposed split say public schools are just trying to sidestep private school competition so they can garner more trophies. They may have a point.
Mike Tatum, a member of the legislative council who supports the split, is the athletic director at Lewis County high school. His team has to play Brentwod’s Christ Presbyterian Academy which has won the class AA state boys basketball title the last two years in a row and holds an undefeated record against state competition this season.
The TSSAA will form a committee to study the possible effects of dividing public and private schools.