East officials will speak at the TSSAA’s board of control meeting Tuesday in Murfreesboro in an effort to get the state’s governing body for high school sports to change a rule and allow the Mustangs permission to play in a national tournament.
The event in question is the DICK’S Nationals, which takes place at the end of the month in New York. East, which is currently ranked third in the nation, has been invited to take part, provided the Mustangs win the AAA state tournament which begins Wednesday in Murfreesboro.
TSSAA bylaws currently prevent member schools from taking part in games following the conclusion of the season. If overturned, the rule could also benefit Murfreesboro Riverdale’s girls team, which is No. 1 in the Super 25 rankings and won the AAA title last Saturday with a 66-59 win over Central.
Riverdale, however, will not appeal the decision.
In 2015, Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) successfully challenged a similar rule in Georgia and was allowed to play in the event.
A petition on change.org started by Dallas Moore had garnered 1,080 signatures as of Monday and the East senior told The Commercial Appeal that she’s got her fingers crossed about Tuesday’s appeal.
“I’ve been praying and praying,” she said. “The boys have worked so hard to get to this point and I feel like they deserve to go. The rule is holding kids back … . This rule was created before the Dick’s tournament began (in 2014) and other states with similar rules have made changes.
“I think any kid that plays sports would love to be involved in a tournament like this. It’s great for them and for the state of Tennessee.”
DICK’S Nationals takes place March 30-April 1 and will be televised on the ESPN family of networks. East enters the state tournament with a 33-3 record, including a pair of victories over national powerhouse Montverde (Fla.) Academy.
USA TODAY High School Sports contributed to this report