Ensworth incident spurs TSSAA bylaw change

Ensworth incident spurs TSSAA bylaw change

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Ensworth incident spurs TSSAA bylaw change

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Executive director Bernard Childress said the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association was “caught off-guard” by the circumstances that led to the overturned suspensions of Ensworth’s Ricky Bowers and Paul Wade that allowed them to coach in the Division II-AA football championship.

The TSSAA Legislative Council made sure Wednesday that won’t happen again.

The council voted unanimously to approve a bylaw addition that changes the timeframe for game officials’ jurisdiction.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations football rules, officials’ jurisdiction “extends through the referee’s declaration of the end of the fourth period or overtime.” The addition to Article IV, Section 17 of the TSSAA Bylaws will grant jurisdiction “upon the arrival of one official within the visual confines of the field or court and ends when the last official leaves the premises at the conclusion of the game.”

An addition to Article I, Section 8, which relates to principal responsibilities will read that “the host school is responsible for the safe passage of the game officials upon arrival and exiting the facility.”

An addition to Article IV, Section 7 will state that the TSSAA bylaws as they relate to unsportsmanlike behavior and officials’ jurisdiction will supersede any other rules — such as those of the NFHS.

The rule change will bring football in line with other sports, in which officials typically have jurisdiction from the time they enter the field or court until the time they leave.

“We do not want to get anything started that coaches, fans or anybody can feel they have a free shot at the officials,” Childress said.

Bowers and Wade were ejected for cursing after Ensworth’s semifinal win over Brentwood Academy. Ensworth appealed based on a rules misapplication, saying that the game had been declared over and that officials had no jurisdiction to eject. The appeal was upheld.

Attempts to reach Bowers for comment were unsuccessful.

The Legislative Council also:

— Voted 7-2 to prevent athletes from withdrawing from school in order to participate in an all-star contest and then re-enrolling and retaining eligibility.

— Took no action on a proposal that would prevent athletes from playing more than one season in a particular sport per year. The proposal was based on a scenario that would allow an athlete to play softball in Georgia in the fall, then move to Tennessee and play in the spring.

— Tabled until March a proposal to recognize girls wrestling as a championship sport.

— Denied a proposal to change the summer dead period to the week of Memorial Day and the week of July 4.

— Allowed a bylaw change to allow open facilities during the dead period and to allow weight training and conditioning at all times except during the dead period.

— Denied a proposal to allow homeschool students to pay a prorated tuition to participate in athletics at independent schools.

— Denied a proposal to remove the limit on the number of non-faculty coaches and on the number of years non-faculty coaches have to serve as an assistant before they can be considered for hiring as a head coach.

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