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Friday, February 18, 2005
A wacky turn of events.
Rivallries are what makes sports fun. If you're a fan of a certain team, there's just that one (or possibly more) team out there that you just really like beating. As a Redskins fan, I despise the Cowboys and wish nothing but losses upon them--esp. from the Redskins. As a Vols fan there is just someting special about beating Alabama.

When I was in high school at Woodbridge Senior High in Woodbridge, Virginia, our big cross-town rival was Gar-field. The Woodbridge/Gar-field games were always a big deal and in most cases, the schools were on a fairly even talent level.

It's the rivallries that make sports fun.

But sometimes they can take wacky turns....

As is the case here in middle Tennessee right now. The TSSAA recently forced Cheatham County girl's basketball team to forfeit 18 wins this year because of having an ineligible player. Katie Morehead transferred from Hillsboro to Cheatham County this year, but because of some complications in moving residences, she was deemed ineligible. The Tennessean explains:

In the hearing [Wedneday] morning, Cheatham County presented information to the TSSAA staff and the Middle Tennessee board members to show that the Morehead family had moved from its house in Pegram to an apartment in Ashland City in August.

The school admitted the Moreheads retained ownership of their Pegram house, but said they rented the house to their elder daughter who was living at home while commuting to college. Leasing the old residence is one action suggested by the TSSAA to demonstrate that the move to a new residence is a bona fide change.

Because the elder daughter remained in the Pegram house, the Moreheads said they did not disconnect the phone, utilities or remove all furniture from the residence. Each of these actions are also TSSAA guidelines to show a bona fide change of residence, which is required for a student to be eligible to participate in athletics at his or her new school.

If there is not a bona fide change of residence, the athlete must sit out 12 months from his or her last date of athletic competition.

Listening to some debate on this story, there are more details that have come out. The father of Katie Morehead contacted the TSSAA when the move occurred and asked what he needed to do. He was thinking of having his daughter go to private school but was encouraged to have her attend school and play for Cheatham County. He was also told that they were in compliance with the TSSAA rules for a transfer of schools.

I guess the moral of the story is--even if the TSSAA office tells you're OK, get a rule book and make sure.

Of course, I could be a conspiracy buff and point out the timing of this is pretty intriguing. Turns out Cheatham County and Hillsboro were tied for first place in the district. And now did I mention they are both big rivals? If I were a fan of Cheatham County, I might be a bit suspicious of these events.

That said, I really have to feel for not only Katie Morehead but also the other players on her team. They all worked hard all season to get to first place in the district and a chance to have a high seed in the tournament. But it's all been taken away now due to an oversight. And I knowr the rules exist because there are less than scrupulous people out there who would take advantage of them. But I am not sure the punishment fits the crime here. It was not a crime done with malice or to create an unfair advantage. It was one done out of ignorange and it the punishment ends up causing embarassment to the girls and the team. Also, I don't know much about Katie Morehead, but I do know that district tourneys can be a time to get your name out there for college scholarships. Since she can't play, she may be denied a chance or a look by a school that might help pay for her college education and I find that a real shame as well.

Again, the morale of the story is--even if TSSAA tells you that you're in compliance, have a rule book near by to make absolutely sure.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/18/2005 11:53:00 AM | |
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