'The City Paper' sues TSSAA for public records

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 4:06pm

To our readers:

Today The City Paper filed suit in Davidson County Chancery Court for access to public records held by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. We would like to see inside its investigatory process and learn exactly how the organization functions as it applies its rules on financial aid and student athlete eligibility.

The TSSAA is the regulatory body for high school athletics in the state of Tennessee. Though nominally a private organization, it is largely funded by public tax dollars in the form of membership fees and gate receipts from tournament games played in public facilities, and its Board of Control is filled with public officials. It is so intertwined with public resources that the U.S. Supreme Court declared it a state actor in the course of its landmark case against Brentwood Academy.

But even more important than its public status is the power it wields over the lives of students. Simply, it is the only game in town if you are an athlete or school in Tennessee. We believe that a little sunshine on the TSSAA might be beneficial for everyone. Doing things in the open increases accountability, and that’s something that might actually help the TSSAA in its mission to provide a level field for athletes to play on.

We feel certain that the TSSAA will resist this in court. It has shown hostility toward sunshine in the past, going so far as to file amicus briefs in support of Corrections Corporation of America’s ongoing fight against open records. But we believe that it is important to hold powerful bodies accountable and one of the best ways to do that is through the Tennessee Public Records Act.

Filed under: City News
TSSAAPetition.pdf814.16 KB

19 Comments on this post:

By: buzzer on 2/15/12 at 3:12

i am sure this is about mba. let it die!

By: hattrick3 on 2/15/12 at 3:18

Although i belive the genesis of the story is MBA, I look forward to seeing the underside of the good ol boy network that is TSSAA. There is a select few in charge of thousands of children

By: jsnap on 2/15/12 at 4:19

I hope it will uncover what went on with MBA. Maybe it will shed some light on what, when, who, and how much the administration knew. Sadly though, it will probably never see the light of day.

By: Rasputin72 on 2/15/12 at 4:57

his is the best lawsuit that has brought to the middle Tennessee community in a very long time. I do not know what the TSSAA has on file but I am sure that they are terrified of Brentwood Academy. Winning and hiring football players at Brentwood Academy is worth going all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Brentwood Academy has proved that in their resistance to governance by the TSSAA. I am still in awe of why the TSSAA faced down MBA. If I were going to open an investigation into the hiring of athletes through scholarship it would be Brentwood Academy and Ensworth.

I think you can hire an athlete from the "hood or the "housing projects" because they are poor. You cannot hire an athlete via scholarship if the family has any money may be what happened to MBA.

By: Loner on 2/16/12 at 4:10

Always with the sweat-stained sports analogies in Jock City, TN:

Doing things in the open increases accountability, and that’s something that might actually help the TSSAA in its mission to provide a level field for athletes to play on.

Let's hope that the City paper doesn't "drop the ball", as they do an "end around" the TSSAA's "front four"....hopefully they won't "fumble" when they "hand off" the ball in their attempt to "score"....please, no "grandstanding" in the "end zone".

By: rldavenport@com... on 2/16/12 at 7:59

Good ole boy network is right, hattrick. The public/private split was the result of nothing more than petty jealousy. I agree with James Armstrong (who will be inducted into the class of 2012 TSSAA Hall of Fame) who stated his wish that this split be abolished. It is one of the most moronic decisions ever made.

By: Moonglow1 on 2/16/12 at 8:42

Moonglow1: TSSAA is publicly funded and as such needs to be transparent.

By: Left-of-Local on 2/16/12 at 8:43

BAM! Eat that, corrupt sports culture.

By: skeptic1 on 2/16/12 at 9:00

Maybe MBA but also Riverdale in Murfreesboro was recently audited by the State and YES they had problems. I would be more concerned about the "business secrets" bill the legislature is considering today. Really! They want to be able to give away business incentives (state taxpayers' dollars) to businesses that won't/don't divulge who their owners are, etc. Why???????

By: Rasputin72 on 2/16/12 at 9:04

Hooray! for the comments made by RIDAVENPORT!

By: Carol Williams on 2/16/12 at 9:39

I doubt the TSSAA records will show all the athletic recruiting violations of private schools since their investigations appear to be extremely limited. Going after the most prominent school with proven success in athletics and academics makes for bigger news.

By: hattrick3 on 2/16/12 at 9:43

Carol - So you're saying they are attacking Ensworth?

By: RTungsten on 2/16/12 at 10:19

Being transparent and being truthful are different things. Sure, you might get some information, but its probably not what everyone is looking for. I have little confidence in what public organizations release to the public under this records act.

By: tomba1 on 2/16/12 at 10:53

It's way past the time for the private schools to just tell the TSSAA adios and form their own association or league with their own athletic and academic missions. Their goals and needs are far different from those of public schools so why shouldn't they have their own organization more closely aligned with those objectives? Here's how a few Virginia private schools started their Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) and currently have over 90 members.


And to the TSSAA, you too could learn from the Virginia High School League (VHSL) at their website vhsl.org. Their league of 311 public schools offers much more than merely overseeing athletics. Their mission is much broader getting into academics and other student activities. They also provide a number of college scholarships to deserving students throughout the Commonwealth. Now that looks like an organization dedicated to serving the member schools and their students and not dividing them and turning them against each other as the TSSAA and its' "Board of Control" does.

So move on, private schools, to a better place. It is the time to go, now.

By: Mike Burch on 2/16/12 at 1:37

John F. Kennedy said, "The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society."

Usually when people are hiding things from public view, they have dirty little secrets, if not skeletons in the closet.

We ought to have a law that any organization that receives taxpayer money in any form must make all its records public, other than private information about individuals (health, sex, etc.). This should go especially for government agencies.

If all records are made public, people will have to think about public opinion when they make decisions.

By: rldavenport@com... on 2/16/12 at 6:01

Thanks, Rasputin

By: Leazee on 2/16/12 at 8:11

Rasputin-you are in need of facts regarding TSSAA and Brentwood Academy. The TSSAA is not fearful of BA because they harrassed them until two prominent attorneys finally contacted BA and volunteered their services for representtation. It is the attorneys- a constitutional attorney from Vanderbilt and a MBA father, who the TSSAA would fear.These attorneys recognized that the TSSAA was on a crazy goose chase with BA and the chase was not about paying players or families or hiring families to work for the school.( That's what MBA did.) It was about being a state actor and a monopoly.Despite putting BA students, parents and school personnel on the stand, nothing came of the goose chase though the TSSAA was so sure that they had it in the bag. What most forget is that BA , in the end, was reprimanded for sending out a letter to students in the spring who had signed contracts to attend BA the next fall.The letter suggested that these new students take part in spring practice. Ridiculous of course, but BA accepted the verdict.
BA has never been in a position to casually pay out students to complete their tuitions. "Compassionate pay-offs" were considered illegal at BA. Their board and the school has never had the money to finance students in this way and it was against the rules..period. Cannot speak to Ensworth, but it is probably quite comparable to MBA. Remember-MBA presented the TSSAA most of the information that the agency had for prosecution, for fear that too much had yet come out in the end. Much of the money was paid to incoming seventh graders whom the TSSAA does not oversee. THat comes from several MBA Board members who dug as deep as possible to avoid the "death penalty." This is how MBA was able to build these classes without TSSAA oversight. I hate to say it, but you are obviously confused by facts.

By: Rasputin72 on 2/17/12 at 6:49

LEAZEE........I can assure you that there is no confusion on my part as to my comment, "The TSSAA is terrified of Brentwood Academy." Whether or not your comments have anything to do with that I have no idea.

I believe the TSSAA says you can "hire athletes as long as they are from a poverty stricken environment . I think that is called "based on need"

By: Aurora on 2/17/12 at 12:12

I thought BA sued rather than accept the TSSAA decision. I thought it was BA that put all those people on the witness stand. And I thought that in the final decision TSSAA won that case. If so, why would TSSAA be terrified of BA?