UT won't host high school football jamboree in August

(WBIR - Knoxville) Hundreds of Knox County high school football players are disappointed after learning one of their dreams may not come true.

For more than 20 years, Knox County Schools' annual football jamboree has taken place at Neyland Stadium. That will not happen this year.

The University of Tennessee's athletics spokesman, Jimmy Stanton, said in an emailed statement, "We place great priority on having the field at Neyland Stadium in the best possible condition when the Tennessee football season begins, which we believe is in the best interests of our football program. As such, we will not be hosting the Jamboree or any other on-field events in August at the stadium moving forward."

Some say it's a major loss for the high school players.

Chris Grove, whose son is an upcoming freshman football player for Bearden High School, said, "For a lot of these kids, that's the only time they're ever going to step foot on that field. For some of them, it may be something that sparks that 'Hey I really do want to go to college and maybe they're going to try harder in their senior year."

Fulton High School's Head Football Coach Rob Black said, "Even though there are a lot of kids who go play college football, not many of them are going to play in a stadium like the University of Tennessee. I know that every year our kids look forward to it, getting a chance to play on that kind of a stage."

Knox County Schools Athletics Specialist Marion Quinn found out about UT's decision this week. He said working with UT Athletics has been a pleasure. Quinn also said the situation goes beyond students. The jamboree is a fundraiser for the schools, meaning parents could be forced to pay more for student athletic fees.

Quinn said, "We pay for an athletic insurance for all of the kids who participate in athletics in Knox County Schools and what we make at the jamboree offsets what our kids have to pay.

Quinn said Knox County Schools plan to have this year's football jamboree on August 14th - 15th at a couple of high schools, however the school system is still trying to decide which high schools.

Some think taking the event that once was an all day affair at Neyland Stadium and turning it into a two-day event could impact ticket sales for the jamboree.

Coach Black said, "The kids love playing in Neyland Stadium. Probably most parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents like to go to Neyland Stadium and see the kids play in there."

Parents like Chris Grove are disappointed their athlete may miss out on what is for most a once in a lifetime experience.

"They won't get that lifetime memory of being on the field, looking up at those stands, and seeing this huge stadium and 'Hey I'm playing here," Grove said.

UT Athlectics Department said its willing to work with Knox County Schools to come up with an alternative that will allow the high school football players to play at Neyland Stadium. Stanton said in his emailed statement, "We greatly value our relationships with all of our local high schools, and we understand the unique experience of playing in Neyland Stadium. We will have discussions regarding the potential of hosting the Jamboree in the Spring moving forward, as we are certainly open to this event taking place in the weeks after the Orange and White Game each year."


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