TSSAA modifies seating policy for hosting substate basketball games

By Wes Holtsclaw

   Unaka and Cloudland will get to host future substate basketball games after all.
   During their annual Board of Control meeting in Pigeon Forge earlier this month, the TSSAA made news by keeping the state basketball tournament in Murfreesboro over Memphis and Chattanooga.
   For this area, the biggest news item was something local basketball coaches have been wanting to hear for sometime.
   Due to having smaller gymnasiums, Unaka and Cloudland high schools weren't able to host their substate basketball games, forcing a move to nearby Happy Valley or Hampton high schools to get the needed 1,500-seat facility.
   The TSSAA made some crucial changes that would benefit both schools, lowering the single-A substate mandate to 1,000 people, while double-A was lowered to 1,250 and triple-A dropped to 1,500.
   The same rules will be applied to district and regional tournament sites.
   Minimum requirements were also made for the host sites of district baseball tournaments, as each site must only be able to charge admission, cover the field with a tarp and have lights for night games.
   This November will see perhaps the biggest decision in TSSAA football history. As TSSAA members overwhelmingly voted to change the current classifications with private schools.
   The TSSAA plan has been leaked in a recent article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The story touted the following plans as possible options that school
   administrators will vote on in the fall.
   PLAN I: Leave the system just the way it is now;
   PLAN II: Do away with Division II and use a multiplier system (1.5 for non-financial aid, and 2.0 for financial aid schools) just like the one used in Georgia. (This would keep the five classes, but schools like Ezell-Harding would be put in 2-A and 3-A, while schools like Brentwood Academy and BGA would be in 4-A and 5-A).
   PLAN III: A total public/private split with three classes in each sport (including football).
   PLAN IV: This plan has not been announced, but many sources believe the plan will include to be a Urban, City, Town, and Rural split with all schools (public and private) included.
   If the third plan is chosen, the classification shake ups would be felt in this county as many of its teams would be aligned in the same conference once more.
   For the proposed 2005 1-A football classification with plan three, Cloudland, Unaka, Hampton, Happy Valley, Chuckey-Doak, South Greene, North Greene and West Greene would be reunited in a new Watauga Conference.
   The class would also include South Pittsburg, Gatlinburg-Pittman, Alcoa, Tyner, Collinwood, Trousdale County ( current 1-A and defending 3-A state champion), Rockwood, Union City, Harriman, Sweetwater and Fairview.
   Elizabethton and Johnson County would be listed in the 2-A classification with most of the Mountain Lakes Conference. However, some schools would possibly be added due to the re-zoning of regions.
   Unicoi County, Sullivan North, Greeneville, Sullivan East, Sullivan Central, Volunteer and Tennessee High would be in the same listing. State powerhouse's Austin East, Crockett County, Pearl-Cohn, Fulton, White House, Dyersburg and Anderson County would also be in this classification.
   Sullivan South, David Crockett, Cherokee, Daniel Boone, Morristown West and East would be back in the ranks with Sevier County, Jefferson County, Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill.
   A big change for the class would be the rise of Maryville to compete with such schools as Brentwood, Riverdale, Oak Ridge, Oakland and Ooltewah.
   Personally, I believe the three classification system would be sliced to four public school classes if the total split occurs. As soon as the vote occurs this fall, rely on the Elizabethton STAR to break any information as it becomes available.
   Speaking of football, for those fans wanting to know who their favorite teams are playing this fall, you may find the football schedules for each of the state's high school team on the TSSAA website (www.tssaa.org).