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TSSAA Addresses Summer Sporting Activities

Executive Director Bernard Childress and the TSSAA state office staff are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on interscholastic athletics in Tennessee.

Due to the ongoing social distancing efforts, the Board of Control’s three-day meeting originally scheduled for June in Murfreesboro has been cancelled. The Board will take into consideration the items from the June agenda at the August meeting. The first day of the June meeting was to be set aside for a classification study session. Instead of a face-to-face meeting, each Board member will be sent the plans they requested to review with the goal of holding the classification study session in late July.

“The classification process is very important to our member schools and with so many different variables and plans to discuss, I believe this is a meeting that should take place in-person if at all possible,” said Bernard Childress, Executive Director. “The plans under consideration by the Board and the decisions they’ll be making on classification will not go into effect until August 2021, which does allow us some leeway on the timeline considering the circumstances.”

In regards to the TSSAA/TMSAA Sports Calendar and what school-related activities are permitted during the months of May, June, and July, all member school athletic programs will need to follow the TSSAA/TMSAA Sports Calendar as written.

TSSAA is recommending that member schools follow the state and local government along with the CDC and local Health Department guidelines concerning social distancing, understanding that these guidelines will continue to change from county to county and as the summer progresses.

“It is totally the decision of local Boards of Education, Directors of Schools, and/or Heads of School as to how much they are going to allow coaches to do face-to-face activities with their students,” added Childress.

“No one knows when school or non-school teams will be allowed to compete against one another,” he continued, “but in terms of practice, coaches should already be familiar with the Council’s calendar for their sport and are free to conduct practice sessions within the framework of those rules and the social distancing guidelines of health professionals and their LEA.”

Schools have also been advised that summer begins when the school and/or school system was originally scheduled to be dismissed. Up until that point, all sports are in the off-season. In following the TSSAA/TMSAA Sports Calendar, it should be noted that coaches may conduct “online” practice sessions as long as they are following the guidelines which are specific to their sport. As usual, weight lifting and conditioning, even if conducted “online,” must be open to all students and not required of any of them to participate.

The “Dead Period,” a two-week period in the summer where coaches are not permitted to be in contact with players, will remain in place.

Included is an FAQ that should help to answer several of the most frequent questions.

Q: If the CDC or our local health department recommends that only 10 or fewer people be together, can we have multiple practices on a single day with a different small group of kids each time and only be considered a single practice for the purposes of the TSSAA Sports Calendar?

A: Yes. This would be permissible provided that your LEA and school administration allows it.

Q: What do we do about kids who are not able to get a pre-participation physical due to the lack of availability of medical professionals who are open or available to perform this service?

A: Pre-participation physicals that are dated on or after April 15, 2019 are good for the purposes of TSSAA eligibility throughout the summer of 2020 up until the first official day of practice for a fall sport that the student wishes to participate in. We are aware that getting a pre-participation physical may be an issue for some students due to the lack of availability of medical professionals, and we will have more information on how this will be handled in the coming weeks.

Q: Can we host a game this summer to honor our seniors who did not have a chance to be recognized this season?

A: TSSAA Bylaws do not permit a high school graduate to participate in TSSAA scrimmage or competition between two TSSAA school teams. However, there is no TSSAA compliance issue with a senior playing on an independent team with other students from his or her school.

Q: Can a coach host a video conference meeting (eg. Zoom, Webex, Hangouts) during the offseason with his or her team?

A: It depends. If sport-specific instruction is given during the video conference meeting (eg. installing offense, blocking techniques, etc.) then the meeting would be considered practice and could only take place when the TSSAA Sports Calendar does not restrict practice for the particular sport in question.

Q: Is it considered a recruiting violation if we post information about summer workouts and practice schedules on social media for incoming 9th graders?

A: No, provided that this information is distributed openly and is not being sent to a specific student or groups of students.

TWRA Announces Availability Of Clean Streams Grant

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is announcing the availability of grant dollars to assist cities, schools, community organizations, civic groups, watershed organizations, and conservation groups, etc., with stream clean-up projects and planting projects during the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Five grants, at a maximum of $1,000 each, are available for each of TWRA’s four regional Aquatic Habitat Protection projects (a total of $5,000 per region). The funds will be obligated as grants, so the grantee must have a nonprofit tax number. The application deadline for the program is June 30, 2020. The projects are to be completed, the money spent, and a report submitted by June 30, 2021.
The grant money could be used to buy supplies such as rakes, work gloves, and garbage bags. Also, it could be used to pay disposal fees for solid waste and tire removal or to provide promotional items like project advertisement or T‑shirts and refreshments for volunteer support.
Grant proposals should include the applicant organization’s name, tax ID number, address, phone, and name of a contact person authorized to enter into contractual agreement on behalf of the organization. The proposal should also include the name of the stream, county or counties involved, and the project area and description.
Contact TWRA’s Della Sawyers at (615) 781-6577 or by email at della.sawyers@tn.gov with any questions. For additional information, interested persons may also contact a regional Aquatic Habitat Protection Biologist at the TWRA regional offices listed below:

Region I
Allen Pyburn
200 Lowell Thomas Drive
Jackson, TN 38301
(731) 423-6541
Email: Allen.Pyburn@tn.gov
Region 2
Mike Murdock
5105 Edmondson Pike
Ellington Ag. Center
Nashville, TN 37211
(615) 781-6510
Email: Mike.Murdock@tn.gov

Region 3
Bobby Brown
464 Industrial Boulevard
Crossville, TN 38555
(931) 484-9571
Email: Bobby.Brown@tn.gov
Region 4
Rob Lindbom
3030 Wildlife Way
Morristown, TN 37814
(423) 587-7037
Email: Dennis.Lindbom@tn.gov

TSSAA Legislative Council Meets To Review Bylaw Revisions

Several updates to the TSSAA Bylaws were made over the past six months that will take affect in July for the start of the 2020-21 school year. The changes were voted on at the two previous meetings of the Legislative Council. We are asking the administrations of all TSSAA and TMSAA member schools to carefully review the changes and provide a copy to everyone involved in athletics at the school.

The Legislative Council, which is made up of twelve administrators from member schools, is the governing body of the TSSAA that has the authority to make changes to the Constitution and Bylaws. Council members are school administrators — four from each Grand Division of the state — elected for three-year terms. The Council ascertained the sentiment of the membership toward such changes at the regional meetings in each Grand Division of the state in November of this past year where proposals were discussed by school principals.

Be reminded that the TSSAA Board of Control’s mandated heat, lightning, and concussion policies apply to every sanctioned sport during practice and games. The TSSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee reviews and updates these policies annually. The state law concerning “Cardiac Arrest” must also be followed at all times. This information is always available on the TSSAA.org website. It is vital that every administrator and coach have copies of these policies and understand their importance. They must be followed at all times in all sports whether indoors or outdoors.

What follows is a summary of the Bylaw changes and where they can be found in the TSSAA or TMSAA handbook. An updated version of the TSSAA and TMSAA handbooks will be available on our website prior to member schools receiving the 2020-2021 printed copies. When they become available, the updated handbook should be used to conduct coaches’ meetings.

Article II, Section 23 (All-Star Games) of the TSSAA Bylaws

This rule has been removed from the Bylaws. The change means that administrators and coaches will not have to worry about an underclassman playing in an All-Star Game after their season is completed.

Article I, Section 6 (Cooperative Programs) of the TSSAA Bylaws

This rule has been changed to state that two schools may request to form a cooperative agreement if one of the schools has not had the program the last two years. The old rule required the school to not have the program for five years before requesting to co-op.

Article II, Section 13 (Ineligible Transfer Students) of the TSSAA/TMSAA Bylaws

The section making students ineligible for twelve months in all sports if they transfer a second time in their career has been removed.

Article IV, Section 8 (Sports Calendar) of the TSSAA/TMSAA Bylaws

This change increases the number of student-athletes coaches are allowed to give individual instructions to per day during preseason and offseason from three (3) to five (5) in baseball and softball. The number in football, girls’ soccer, and soccer has been increased to six (6).

Article IV, Section 8 (Sports Calendar) of the TSSAA/TMSAA Bylaws

This change states the Dead Period will start on Monday morning at 12:00 a.m. and end two weeks later on Monday morning at 12:00 a.m. during the same weeks designated by the Bylaws. This delays the Dead Period by 24 hours which allows school personnel to bring their players home from camp on Sunday. Now they will not be required to leave on Saturday before the Dead Period begins. The upcoming 2020 dead period has been adjusted according to this directive.

Article III, Sections 7 and 9 (Student-Athletes and Coaches Ejected for Unsportsmanlike Conduct) of the TSSAA/TMSAA Bylaws

An addition to these bylaws states that schools who have not submitted their “Confirmation of Sportsmanship Meeting Form” by the end of the sports season in which the violation occurred shall be subject to a $100 fine.

Article I, Section 9 (Coaches) of the TMSAA Bylaws

This change states that the annual registration fee for non-faculty coaches at the middle school level will be $25.00 per coach

TWRA Seeking Input On Proposed Upcoming Hunting Regulations

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is now soliciting comments on the proposed 2020-21 and 2021-22 hunting seasons’ regulations that were made at the April meeting of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission. This is an opportunity for the public to share ideas and concerns about the proposed hunting regulations with TWRA staff.
A public comment period on the proposals will be open until May 15. The proposals can be viewed on the TWRA website on the Hunting in Tennessee page.
Public comments will be considered by TWRA’s Wildlife Division staff and may be presented as proposals for regulation changes. Comments may be submitted by mail to: Hunting Season Comments, TWRA, Wildlife Division, 5107 Edmondson Pike, Nashville, TN 37211 or emailed to Twra.huntingcomments@tn.gov.
Please include “Hunting Season Comments” on the subject line of emailed submissions.

TSSAA Addresses Questions On Offseason