If you want to officiate a school-related sporting event in Tennessee, get ready to submit to a criminal background investigation.
The Tennessee House of Representatives passed SB 2118 by a unanimous 93-0 vote on Thursday. It requires “referees or officiates of interscholastic athletic events to submit to a criminal background investigation and provide a fingerprint sample.”
Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, the sponsor of the bill, highlighted that the bill was for school-sponsored events. That means the law will affect officials of high school and middle school events.
The Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s Board of Control recently voted to require background checks for those who officiated their sanctioned events.
Governor Bill Haslam has 10 days to sign or veto the bill. If no action is taken in that time, the bill becomes a law without his signature.
Background checks became an issue in September when the TSSAA suspended former official Kyle Gill after an incident involving a Glencliff football player.
Gill collided with Glencliff senior defensive back Malcolm Easley and deemed the hit on him to be “malicious” when asked by The Tennessean.
After Gill spoke out on the incident, the TSSAA suspended him when it was discovered Gill had not fully disclosed his criminal history when being vetted for the job.
On Thursday the House praised the TSSAA for the move.
“I would like to commend the TSSAA for being proactive,” said Rep. John Forgety, R-Athens, at the General Assembly. “They are already implementing a program to implement this background check information.”
Joel Ebert contributed to this report. Reach Sam Brown at 615-259-8232 and on Twitter @SamBrownTN.