Public-Private Split

March 15, 2018

On Thursday, the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association's Legislative Council voted to approve a public-private split for postseason play starting in the 2019-20 school year.

According to the Tennessean, Harding Academy, a Memphis-based private school, had submitted the proposal to the TSSAA. Kevin Starks, the school's Athletic Director and a member of the TSSAA's Legislative Analysis, said the change would make things fairer.

"I think it levels the playing field," Starks said. "I think the independent schools can do things that public schools can't do. I think with the exception of all (schools) being back together, which seems unlikely to happen again, I think it's right for independent schools to be together and public and charter schools to be together."

Three private schools--Grace Christian Academy, Columbia Academy and Knoxville Catholic--will switch from Division I to Division II starting in the 2019-20 school year. As a result of those three schools switching divisions, six schools--Fairview Christian Academy in Athens, Christ Legacy Academy in Athens, Dayspring Academy in Greenbrier, Trinity Christian Academy in Jackson, Berean Christian School in Knoxville and Natchez Trace Youth Academy in Waverly--will be affected.

"It's been a work in progress for 20 years," Bernard Childress, Executive Director of the TSSAA, said. "I think it is (easier to do it now).”

Cory Felts, a former coach for Berean Christian School, who now is an assistant coach at Maryville College, called the decision unsurprising.

"From a competitive standpoint, I’m not sure why there was such a fervor over private schools playing in the same division," Felts said. "For a school like Webb, that does offer scholarships, it makes sense to be in a different division. For the overall private schools, especially a small one like Berean I’m not sure how it’s much different from open zone in some of these schools."

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