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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)
It's been the black eye on the Tennessee high school football season.
Three schools — Northeast, Giles County and Powell — forfeited five or more wins for playing an ineligible athlete. It's shortened their seasons as they no longer will be playing in November.
The final week of the regular season is over. The playoffs start next week and the conversation remains on improperly filed paperwork.
Yes, because it didn't have to happen had paperwork been filled out correctly on the front end.
"We try to tell administrators if you feel like there is a gray area, and we don't feel like there is — we feel like they are consistent in our interpretations — pick up the phone and call," TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said. "We'll be glad to walk you through anything you have questions about.
"The problems we see now is they won't do it. We want to catch it on the front end. We don't like dealing with it on the back end."
The TSSAA received 2,005 high school transfer forms during the 2017-18 school year.
The association asks each school to verify their submitted information is correct.
There isn't anyone with the high school association who can check over 2,000 athletes who have transferred schools. From the forms submitted, 1,683 athletes were ruled eligible.
But if the information is incorrect, schools run the risk of getting caught breaking a rule.
The USA Today Network — Tennessee obtained a copy of the TSSAA's transfer form that schools must submit for every athlete who moves in. It's not a complicated form.
In it, all three violations should have been caught had paperwork been correctly submitted.
The general rule to know is if an athlete doesn't have a bona fide change of address to a school, they cannot play a varsity sport for 12 months since the date of their last game.
Northeast's ineligible player hadn't been at the school for 12 months, but moved to the school from West Creek where the parent was teaching.
The TSSAA transfer form states an athlete is eligible if a transfer was a result of a parent, who was a full-time certified teacher at the former school, took a position as a full-time certified teacher at the new school.
However in Northeast's case, the parent had never taught at any school in Montgomery County except Northeast.
Powell's athlete was ineligible because he transferred from his previous school into the Karns zone, but was attending Powell as an out-of-zone student.
The transfer form stipulates that the "new residence is in the territory of the new school and outside the territory of the former school."
Finally, Giles County's forfeits came when a parent did not leave the former residence. The transfer form says the former residence has been disposed of as a residence of the entire family unit that was residing in the old residence.
So as we watch for the playoffs to unfold, remember there are three teams that will be sitting at home in November. And it could have been prevented.
Reach Tom Kreager at 615-259-8089 or email@example.com and on Twitter @Kreager.
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