Things are getting back to normal for fall sports in Tennessee, at least in the preseason.

The TSSAA Board of Control voted in its meeting Tuesday in Murfreesboro to allow schools to return to their normal preseason, as allowed by the TSSAA calendar.

With this decision, football teams can once again participate in 7-on-7 camps this summer. Football, girls’ soccer and volleyball can once again play preseason scrimmages against teams from other schools.

As usual, all school-sanctioned sports activity shuts down during the TSSAA summer dead period, which runs from June 28 through July 11. Golf practice can begin July 12. Football practice in full pads can begin July 26, as does practice for girls’ soccer, volleyball and cross country.

In all, the board addressed nearly 50 items on the agenda Tuesday and Wednesday, making for one of the largest agendas in recent years.

Another major item on the agenda was the expansion of the Division I Girls’ and Boys’ State Basketball Tournaments, with basketball increasing to four classes beginning this upcoming season. With the addition of the fourth class, the tournament will need to begin on Tuesday of each week instead of Wednesday.

In addition, the board addressed a growing issue concerning virtual schools and athletic eligibility. The board voted to permit the transfer of a student’s athletic record to a district-operated virtual school under the existing rules permitting transfers due to a student’s reassignment by the school district.

As an emergency action for the upcoming school year, the board voted to give virtual schools two options to choose from based on how it wishes to conduct its athletic programs. The school (1) may field its own teams, or (2) allow their students to participate in any sport at the student’s zoned public school. Virtual schools who are currently members and already participating in cooperative agreements must choose one of the above options for the 2021-22 or make a special request to the Board of Control to continue their cooperative programs.

The Legislative Council will discuss this action at its December meeting and consider whether to make these rules a permanent part of the TSSAA Bylaws or to make changes as it sees fit.

Twelve schools applied for and were approved for membership in the association. Each school that applied for membership at the June meeting is a virtual school. Those schools are Rutherford County Virtual School, The iLearn Institute at Lenoir City, Collierville Virtual Academy, E.B. Wilson High School, VITAL (Virtual Instruction to Accentuate Learning), Greene Online Academy of Learning, Johnson City Virtual Academy, WCS (Williamson County Schools) Online, Jackson Academic Steam Academy, Pioneer Virtual Academy, Germantown Online School of Learning, and Roane County Virtual Academy.

The board also approved a two-year extension to the contract with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce for Division I basketball tournaments and Spring Fling through the 2022-23 school year.

A full report was given to the Board of Control by the staff in regard to the number of coaches ejected, disciplinary action and unsportsmanlike incidents investigated during the 2020-21 school year. In addition, the Board voted to resume the A. F. Bridges Program this upcoming school year. The Board of Control voted to allocate $27,000 for the athletic programs in the 27 schools with each school receiving $1,000.

The Smyrna Bowling Center and Hendersonville Strike & Spare both submitted bids to host the state bowling tournament for the next two years. The Smyrna Bowling Center was selected to continue to serve as host of the state tournament, which they have done since the sport was sanctioned by TSSAA 20 years ago.

Numerous changes regarding the competition format and postseason format in the sport of bowling were approved by the Board. Team format will now consist of one game of American 10-pin and five Baker games. Individuals will now qualify for the state tournament by competing in their respective Sectional Tournament. There will be four sections, each of which will be comprised of two regions. The sectional tournament is open and the lanes will be oiled using the same “sport shot” pattern chosen for the state tournament. State qualifiers will be based on total pinfall after six games. The new postseason format for bowling can be found on the Bowling section of the TSSAA website.

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