A split of public and private high schools — regardless of financial aid status — will be proposed Wednesday at the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's Legislative Council meeting.
The proposal to change Article I, Section 3 of the TSSAA Bylaws has been sponsored by the administrations at Trousdale County and Lewis County, according to the meeting agenda that was distributed Monday.
"Our district in this area is strongly supportive of the proposal, that all the public schools be in one division and all the private schools be in what is called Division II," said Mike Tatum, assistant principal and athletics director at Lewis County and a member of the Legislative Council.
Article I, Section 3 currently reads:
"For tournament competition there shall be two categories. Division I shall be schools whose student-athletes competing at the varsity level do not receive need-based financial aid. Division II shall be those schools whose student-athletes competing at the varsity level may be the recipients of need-based financial aid."
Trousdale County and Lewis County each have a private school in their district — Goodpasture in District 8-A with Trousdale County and Christ Presbyterian Academy in District 12-AA with Lewis County.
"They have said they felt we didn't have a level playing field," Tatum said of the 30-plus schools that have indicated support of the change. "With public schools, there are so many other variables involved than athletics and academics. There's a whole strata of society.
"They don't serve the same students we do, we feel like. We're isolated in our districts. We can't pull from other areas. We have to maintain our own district, as far as students are concerned."
Clint Satterfield, director of Trousdale County schools, was not available for comment.
TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said: "We'll address it Wednesday with the Council. We received the proposal in January. Any proposal that is sent to our office a month prior to the meeting, we are required to place on the agenda."
Childress declined to comment further.