girls basketball

Memphis students start petition to make Memphis East boys, Riverdale girls eligible for DICK'S Nationals

The Memphis East High School Mustangs (Memphis, Tenn.) dance before the start of the 2017 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions championship game between the Sierra Canyon School Trailblazers (Chatsworth, Calif.) and the Memphis East High School Mustangs (Memphis, Tenn.) at JQH Arena in Springfield, Mo. in January.

A group of Memphis students has started a petition in the hope that USA TODAY Super 25 No. 3 Memphis East will gain entry to the annual DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals basketball tournament, with the girls from USA TODAY Super 25 No. 1 Riverdale also potentially getting a boost in the process.

In an interview with USA TODAY High School Sports, Memphis East high school senior Dallas Moore confirmed that she and a group of classmates joined together to found a group they are calling Students United, which aims to amass enough online signatures to convince the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) board to allow the schools to compete in the 2017 DICK’S tournament in New York. In four days the petition was first published it has garnered nearly 750 signatures toward a goal of 1,000.

“The potential benefits that this experience offers are second to none, with providing the students a great platform to showcase their talents, skills, and abilities for colleges on a national level,” Moore told USA TODAY. “In addition, this would be a first in  history for the state of Tennessee. Its a great way for the state of Tennessee to be recognized; not only will we have one team, but two teams playing in the National Championship tournament.”

Moore’s statement is a direct appeal to the TSSAA, which previously noted that its board had never acceded to an appeal for one of the state’s teams to participate in a postseason tournament after the end of the state’s own championship tournament.

“We’ve had teams invited to the event before and our board has denied those requests,” Bernard Childress, the executive director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, previously told USA TODAY. “It’s not likely they would approve a team to advance past state championship games because our bylaws say that once a team’s season is over once they have won a state championship or lost in earlier rounds of state play.”

The efforts of Students United follow a similar script used by Wheeler (Ga.) when it petitioned the Georgia High School Activities Association to enter the 2015 DICK’S Nationals. That effort eventually proved successful, with Wheeler earning a berth at the tournament where it was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Now Memphis East and Riverdale have fans making their own case, which will force TSSAA officials to take a stand, one way or the other.