Tenn. prep football team gets probation for recruiting violation

May 6, 2015 / CoachingFootball
The Cleveland High School (Tennessee) football program was put on two years probation after school officials found that the team’s head coach spoke with a middle school student about his program.

Cleveland High School
Cleveland High School

The penalty was imposed by the high school and accepted by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. The football program is also being fined $1,000.

Here’s how the school describes the violation in a news release:

Head football coach Scott Cummings communicated with the guardian of a Cleveland Middle School student in his class at the request of the student. The meeting was set up to discuss the student’s change in behavior in his class. In addition to discussing the academic programs offered at the school, the vision and structure for Cleveland football was discussed at the conclusion of the meeting. This violates the definition of Athletic Recruiting as defined by TSSAA.

“In 13 years of being a head coach I have been working on the premise that contacting a student/player in my school zone or even my class was allowed. No attempts were made to have an influence on a student that was outside of Cleveland City Schools. Cleveland Middle is a Cleveland City School and is our feeder. I will make the necessary adjustments and move forward in a positive direction.” Coach Cummings stated.

It sounds like an honest mistake, but it’s a reminder to coaches that “recruiting” as defined by athletic association bylaws may not only mean contacting students outside of your district. In this case, even though the middle and high schools shared the same district, the contact was a violation because the schools do not share the same building.

In addition to probation and a fine, the team cannot participate in any preseason scrimmages or jamboree during the fall of 2015. During the spring of 2016, they may only participate in five days of practice within 10 school days and no scrimmages. Cleveland will also reduce the number of fall 2016 scrimmages from four to two and cannot participate in any jamboree.

The middle school student involved is now ineligible to participate in athletics at Cleveland High School during the 2015-16 school year, according to the release.

To read the school’s full statement, click here.

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