Budget Problems May Affect Athletic Openers, Could Cost One Tenn. School A $25K Gate

August 10, 2012 / Golf
The Tennessean, Cecil Joyce


If the budget issue isn’t resolved and schools in session within the next week, athletics around Sumner County will be greatly affected.

Some high school golf teams around Sumner County have already been forced to stop playing after having started their seasons a couple of weeks ago. Volleyball, soccer and cross country teams were scheduled to get started on Monday, Aug. 20.

However, football is the sport that could be impacted the most.

Several high school teams were slated to begin their season next week, including a televised Thursday night contest involving Hendersonville at Station Camp.

Portland is scheduled to play at Beech, Gallatin playing at home against Wilson Central and Eagleville traveling to Westmoreland on Friday, Aug. 17.

With the same bye weeks, the Beech-Portland and Station Camp-HHS matchups could easily be rescheduled for later in the season.

However, according to Station Camp High School Athletic Director Mike Hayes, it wouldn’t be the same as kicking off the season against their rivals on television.

“That could be a possibility,” Hayes said of the convenient rescheduling possibility. “Hopefully we will be back in school by then and get to play the game.

“From a monetary position, we could lose a $25,000 gate. We would still get a gate (during the rescheduled date), but it wouldn’t be the same. With it being the only game that night and the first game of the year, the crowd would be bigger (Thursday night). Everybody would be fired up about the start of football season.”

No school, no play

The Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TSSAA) has a 20-day grace period for teams whose schools are not in session to play games.

However, that rule is superseded by the Director of Schools Del Phillips’ policy of no games while school is not in session.

Therefore, in the case of Gallatin, the Green Wave could be at the mercy of opening-week foe Wilson Central. The Wildcats would have the option of working out a plan to reschedule or simply accept a forfeit victory. The contest is a District 9-AAA game.

“If we’re not able to play, we’ll accept that,” said Gallatin High Athletic Director Jay Lovett. “(If school is not back in session by Aug. 17) we will call Wilson Central and see if we can work something out. We’ll go from there.

“(Volleyball, soccer and cross country) have a couple more weeks to prepare for any changes. But, with volleyball and soccer, they usually play on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, so their weeks are usually already scheduled. They generally stay away from Friday nights.”

Private schools in the county are not affected, meaning athletics at Pope John Paul II and others are on as scheduled (with the exception of games they might have scheduled against local public schools).

Also affected are middle school sports. Merrol Hyde Magnet and Westmoreland Middle are scheduled to begin their football season next week, while teams in the Sumner County Conference are slated to begin on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

Teams have been allowed to practice and scrimmage during this time.

“That’s the best thing, that we’re allowed to continue to practice,” Lovett said. “It would be tough on the athletes to start practicing and then have to stop for X amount of days and then start back.”

Golf matches are the lone events that have been canceled thus far. Tuesday’s tri-match between rivals Gallatin, Hendersonville and Beech was one casualty, along with Thursday’s match between Westmoreland, Station Camp and Merrol Hyde Magnet. Both of those were slated to be played at Long Hollow Golf Course.

“At the end of the day, I feel bad for the coaches and kids who put in so much work and time,” Hayes said. “It’s already affected golf, and the possibility that the other sports might not start on time is disappointing, not only for the athletes, but for the school.”

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