A temporary restraining order and injunction filed this morning by Fayetteville High School in Lincoln County Chancery Court against the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) was granted, resulting in the special called session of the association’s board of control this afternoon being cancelled.
In essence, the actions will place the matter of whether a member of the FHS football team is eligible to play in the hands of the local court system.
Circuit Court Judge M. Wyatt Burk wrote that the TSSAA's punishment of six game forfeitures and $600 fine be "restrained from enforcing the penalties and sanctions ..."
A hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Nov. 13 to determine whether the order should be extended. Since that date is after the first round of the state playoffs, Fayetteville is now eligible for the postseason, but the date could be moved up. The playoffs start Nov. 8.
Contending that the athlete’s address is not within Fayetteville’s city limits, thus outside the school’s territory, the TSSAA issued a release Friday, stating that FHS was deemed to have played an ineligible transfer in six of the school’s first seven games. That statement, though, contradicted the decision of TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress, who, on Sept. 6, had declared the transfer as eligible.
“This morning a temporary restraining order has been issued restraining the TSSAA from conducting the hearing scheduled for this afternoon regarding the ongoing issue surrounding their ruling delivered last week,” Dr. Janine Wilson, director of Fayetteville City Schools, said earlier today. “As a result of this step, we will not be appearing for an appeal hearing with the TSSAA Board of Control at this point.
“But we will, however, present our case in front of a court of law to be conducted at a later date,” she added. “The decision to seek relief in court was not made in haste. We feel that this course of action is the most appropriate step to address the situation for the benefit of our players and coaches.”
The FHS Tigers head into their game this week with a 9-0 record, 5-0 in Region 5-1A play, assured of a first-round appearance as the top seeded team in the state playoffs, but if the most recent TSSAA decision stands, that record would go to 3-6, 0-5 in the region, and strip the school of its Region 5-1A Championship.
Friday night the Tigers face Sale Creek, an East Tennessee team, at Finley Stadium on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Game time is at 7 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Central. Due to the time change and heavy traffic, and the need for buses to be used for the game, city schools will close at 1 p.m.