MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shock waves in the local high school sports world after the Superintendent of Shelby County Schools announced the district may leave the TSSAA.
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association governs sports for more than 370 public and private high schools in the state, and the leader of SCS says the TSSAA rules with an uneven iron fist.
When her family situation changed, Reneice Morris says her son had to leave Briarcrest and attend public school. The TSSAA, she says, made him sit out a year.
“Football is his first love,” Morris said, “He eats and sleeps football. I mean it’s unreal. So, it was kind of humiliating and very disappointing that my child is being penalized over something he had no control over. His world was turned upside down.”
If Morris’ son had left a public school and gone to private school, there would be no waiting period. That’s one of the reasons why SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray sent a letter to the TSSAA Monday, Aug. 24.
”I have grown increasingly concerned,” Dr. Ray posted to social media, “by the inattention to equity and antiquated rules that penalize students of color from disadvantaged neighborhoods.”
Dr. Ray wants new TSSAA bylaws established, a rotating tournament schedule, and the 12-month wait period for transfer students lifted.
Cedrick Wilson, former U.T. Vol and Pittsburg Steeler, now coaches at his alma mater, Melrose High. The Superbowl champion supports Dr. Ray’s effort, saying the high school playing field in Tennessee is not leveled.
“We want our children to be in the best situation that they possibly can be,” Wilson said. “We want fairness throughout our athletic associations. We need it. And we need it now.”
Wilson and Morris, along with former NBA player Elliot Perry and Olympic gold medalist Rochelle Stevens, were named to an exploratory committee Dr. Ray formed. Their job will be to decide if SCS should remain a part of the TSSAA or exit and create a new athletic association.
“I just want fair and equal treatment for all our kids,” Morris said, “and not just certain ones. I’m super proud of Dr. Ray for having the courage to come up with this idea.”
The TSSAA decline comment when WMC Action News 5 reached out Monday afternoon.