Clarksville Academy’s planned appeal regarding recent sanctions placed on the baseball program by the TSSAA will not take place.
The TSSAA has decided to remove the postseason ban and baseball season restrictions a day before the private school was set to deliver an appeal during Thursday’s Board of Control meeting, TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said.
“We’re going to start over with Clarksville Academy and sit down with them before the (2019) baseball season starts and explain what the rules are and how to interpret those rules,” Childress said Wednesday morning.
Clarksville Academy was hit with restrictive probation last month after the TSSAA ruled the school violated the Preseason Practice and 50 Percent rules.
Clarksville Academy middle school coach Matt Sundstrom took a group of eighth-graders from Clarksville Academy to an independent baseball tournament the weekend of Aug. 25.
Under the 50 Percent Rule, one school can’t provide more than half the number of players required to play that sport for the same team for offseason tournaments. In baseball, the limit is five. The TSSAA said in its October letter to the school that nine players participated in the tournament.
Clarksville Academy vehemently defended itself as varsity baseball coach and athletics director Jake Peterson didn’t think his program violated the rule.
Childress said Wednesday that, although under the current bylaws, Clarksville Academy is in violation of the rules, the school was provided incorrect information on how to interpret it by other schools and at least two TSSAA officials.
“Based on our interpretation of the way the rule has always been, we’re still saying that it is a violation, but the way Clarksville Academy was told to interpret the rule, we just feel that they didn’t get all the information they needed to make the right call,” Childress said.
Peterson declined to respond to the TSSAA’s decision at this time.
Childress said Clarksville Academy provided documentation through text messages that showed the school had been in contact with individuals whose interpretation of the rules were not accurate.
“We’re just not in the business of penalizing schools when there is misinterpretation of the rules,” Childress said. “We don’t think that’s fair to those kids, and we’re always going to give student athletes the benefit of the doubt.”
Childress did not elaborate on who from the TSSAA Clarksville Academy talked to, or which schools Clarksville Academy contacted. He did say those schools had a similar grade configuration as Clarksville Academy, which is a private K-12 Division II school.
“We had a lengthy meeting with Clarksville Academy (Tuesday),” Childress said. “And we were presented with information from them about why they felt they were not breaking the rules.”
The restrictive probation was placed on the school last month because it had just come off a one-year probation earlier this year after improperly contacting a parent of a potential athlete in 2017.
Restrictive probation includes a postseason ban, a ban on in-season baseball invitationals as well as having the varsity program’s schedule reduced to 20 games. The school also was to pay a $2,000 fine.
Reach George Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 931-245-0747 and on Twitter @Cville_Sports.