The Kentucky High School Athletic Association scheduled the game precisely to attract a big crowd from Butler Traditional High School in Louisville, Ky., but a teacher "sickout" in Jefferson County Public Schools prevented some 400 Butler students from traveling to Lexington on Thursday for a noon tipoff against Perry County Central in the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 state tournament game.
The reason? "We couldn't find bus drivers," said Bulter athletic director Mike Crawley, who canceled the 10 buses reserved for the road trip to Rupp Arena. Even the school's band was left behind.
As reported by the Louisville Courier Journal, KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said one reason the Butler-Perry County Central game was scheduled for noon was because of the history of JCPS schools bringing large crowds of students for games held during regular school hours.
"It's obviously disappointing," Tackett said. "At the same time, there are people who feel like they have to advocate for public education. We're in the middle of that, so it's a little bit of a double-edged sword for us.
"The thing is, these students may never get the opportunity again. So that will always be a little bit of a disappointment."
Crawley said tickets were sold only to students who could find rides to Lexington and a JCPS "cheer bus" was available to take cheerleaders to the game.
Despite lacking its typical support in the stands, Butler defeated Perry County, 65-62, in overtime.
The Courier Journal reports that the sickout, which cancelled classes on Wednesday, resulted from JCPS teachers feeling their district could be heavily impacted by a controversial school-choice bill that still has a chance of squeaking through in the final days of the 2019 legislative session.