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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

Knoxville's high school football jamboree, for the first time since 2008, will not be held at Neyland Stadium.

The event, which serves as an unofficial kickoff to the high school football season each year, will likely be split across two nights at different sites like it was in 2007 and 2008 while Neyland Stadium underwent renovations. Central and Farragut served as host sites for the 2007 jamboree, while Central and Bearden filled those roles in 2008.

Last year's Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic's Kick-Off Classic was held Aug. 15 - some 16 days before Tennessee's home opener against Austin Peay.

It featured 11 scrimmages and took roughly five hours to complete. Field preservation factored into the decision by the University of Tennessee.

"We place great priority on having the field at Neyland Stadium in the best possible condition when the Tennessee football season begins, which we believe is in the best interests of our football program," Tennessee senior associate athletic director Jimmy Stanton said in an emailed statement to the News Sentinel on Thursday. "As such, we will not be hosting the Jamboree or any other on-field events in August at the stadium moving forward.

"We greatly value our relationships with all of our local high schools, and we understand the unique experience of playing in Neyland Stadium. We will have discussions regarding the potential of hosting the Jamboree in the Spring moving forward, as we are certainly open to this event taking place in the weeks after the Orange and White Game each year."

A spring jamboree would be difficult to synchronize and would require all participating teams to begin their spring practices - they get 10 practices in a 15-day window - around the same time.

Last season's jamboree featured 22 teams, which included outlining schools such as Anderson County, Campbell County, Clinton, King's Academy and Lenoir City.

Some teams begin their practices early, so multi-sport athletes can still compete in spring sports. Others opt to start in May to ensure the more favorable weather will allow them to complete their 10 practices.

"I understand what they're saying. It's their facilities. They can do what they want to," said Hardin Valley coach Wes Jones. "They have a program, and the University of Tennessee has to be first. But it is disappointing for our kids. They get excited about it.

"But whether we play at UT or not, we'll still have a jamboree and we'll still have a football season next year."

 

April 25, 2014
 
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