Getting to know the TSSAA

By Allen Earl -

The Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) is the guiding association over the state’s athletics. There are nearly 110,000 student athletes that these rules apply to. Here are some basic rules and regulations that all Tennessee high school teams must adhere to.

There are always a number of games that schools in the TSSAA and those schools must adhere to certain guidelines on games and recruiting or face punishment just like collegiate teams, according to 2015-16 regulations.

The TSSAA mandates only a certain number of games that high school teams play during their respective seasons. When it comes to football, teams can play up to 10 games plus the playoff schedule but if the team does not reach the playoffs that team has the option of adding a game 11.

Basketball teams are limited to 24 games with two tournaments. The tournament games count as two games.

In softball, there are 34 games possible with four tournaments that count as four games.

Baseball is similar, they can play 30 games with the tournament counting as three games.

Soccer teams are limited to 16 matches during the course of the season with two tournaments that count as two matches.

Track and field is limited to 11 dates with each date representing a single date.

Tennis is allowed 16 matches with each tournament counting as two matches.

Golf teams can play 14 dates. There are also dead periods in which teams can not get together at school fields, gyms, weight rooms or other school property. The TSSAA prohibits coaches from any contact, any coaching of any kind with the teams.

This does not prohibit players from getting together as a team on their own accord but it can not be organized by the coaching staff.

During dates that are not included in the dead period, schools can have open facilities but coaches can not play or coach the team.

The scrimmage dates are not available until both teams had have at least three practices and those scrimmages must look more like practices than games.

Some regulations vary from sport to sport and can be found on the TSSAA website.

The TSSAA was formed way back in 1925 and the organization was the first in the nation to allow girls to play high school sports with girls basketball taking the court only a few years after its formation.

The TSSAA considers the athletic fields and courts an extension of the classroom that is intended to teach morals, ethics and teamwork. It also considers the athletic endeavors of the players to be a partner to the student in the classroom.

The TSSAA is funded by dues paid by the member schools and a portion of the post season tournaments.

Here are the guidelines concerning legal athletes and transfers which are courtesy of the TSSAA.

A student must have made a passing grade during the preceding semester in at least five full unit subjects; A student must be enrolled before the twentieth school day of the semester, in regular attendance, and carrying at least five full courses during the present semester; A student is permitted eight semesters of eligibility beginning with the ninth grade.

Junior division students are permitted four semesters of eligibility beginning with the eighth grade; A student shall be ineligible in high school if he becomes 19 years of age on or before September 1 or in junior high if he becomes 16 years of age on or before August 1. Athletes must live at home with their parents; in order for a transfer student with an athletic record to be eligible at another school there must be a bona fide change of residence by the athlete’s parents; all transfer students must be approved by the Executive Director of TSSAA before participating in any game or contest; a student whose name is listed on the school eligibility report cannot participate in an independent game or meet until the season has closed in that particular sport. This does not include golf or tennis.

A registered athlete cannot accept any money for athletic skills in any TSSAA sponsored sport; an athlete may accept a medal, trophy, high school letter, sweater, shirt, jacket, blazer or blanket for athletic participation but nothing else of commercial value, and these awards must carry the school’s letter or other appropriate award emblem. All expenses to an athletic camp where specialized instruction is offered must be paid by the athlete or his or her parents; when an athlete is charged tuition to attend a school, it must be paid by the parent or bona fide guardian.

The TSSAA regulations are very thorough but they are meant to keep the athletes organized and on a reasonable same playing field.

Reach Allen Earl at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @pitchadude.

By Allen Earl


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