Peabody head coach seeks answers after football program hit with recruiting violation

 

TRENTON, Tenn. — The Peabody Golden Tide were notified by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association earlier this week that, according to the TSSAA handbook, they had committed a recruiting violation.

The Golden Tide posted a video on Facebook announcing the eighth grade signing day they planned on having. The notification from the TSSAA to head coach Shane Jacobs came as a shock to him.

“I think the video opened up a Pandora’s box so to speak for them, and it’s something that they don’t want to deal with in the metropolitan areas,” Jacobs said.

According to Jacobs, these students are a part of the Trenton School District, and the signing day is nothing more than an informational meeting for parents and future players about the program — something he doesn’t see as breaking any rules.

“Unfortunately for us, their interpretation of the rule is the only one that counts,” he said.

The Board of Directors said they violated Article II, Section 17 (Recruiting Rule) of the TSSAA Bylaws, saying in a letter to the coach: “It is important to know that the TSSAA Bylaws do not recognize ‘feeder schools.’ The Bylaws state that once a student finishes the highest ending grade in the school, the student is eligible to participate at any school, provided they are living at home with their parents and meet all other TSSAA guidelines.”

But seeing how, according to Jacobs, 99 percent of Trenton Rosenwald Middle School students end up going to Peabody High School, he was still confused. He said multiple programs are able to have their eighth graders lift on the high school campus, so he didn’t see why they couldn’t sign someone up.

“We’re rule followers. We’re always going to follow the rules, but I have to know what the rules are,” he said.

After seeking further verification of the rules, WBBJ 7 Eyewitness Sports was told by one board member the rule is really meant for bigger schools with multiple feeder programs to avoid recruiting. They also said it just so happens to apply to all schools including smaller ones, like Peabody, with only one feeder school.

“I do think that we were tripped up being a part of a large organization that has bylaws set to cover such a wide range of issues, circumstances and situations,” Jacobs said.

While Jacobs accepts full responsibility of his and the team’s actions, he still believes they did nothing wrong. He wants the TSSAA to also shoulder some of the load and do a better job explaining the rules moving forward, not only for his sake but for all coaches and programs.

“The outcome that I hope comes of this is that I’m better educated on the policy and all the rules and the interpretations of all of the rules,” he said.

Jacobs’ next step is to have a meeting with the board of directors in Nashville where he hopes they will clarify the rules he supposedly violated.

To avoid discipline from the TSSAA, Jacobs issued self-imposed sanctions on his program. The TSSAA provided those sanctions listed below:

  1. The football program at Peabody High School will reduce the number of Spring Practice days from 10 within a 15-day period to 5 within 10 schools days during the 2017-18 school year.
  2. The football program will reduce the number of scrimmages allowed in the Fall of 2018 and 2019 from four (4) to three (3).
  3. The football program will not be allowed to practice during the first week of summer practice. They will only be allowed to participate in weight lifting and conditioning.
  4. TSSAA will not accept the $500 fine assessed the head coach by the Peabody High School administration. Any fine levied is totally between the coach and administration of the school.
  5. The administration will not allow any upcoming ninth graders to participate or dress for varsity football games the entire 2018 season. This will drastically decrease the roster for the entire season. Coach Jacobs will explain to parents why these student-athletes will not be permitted to participate in varsity football games.
  6. Head Coach Shane Jacobs will delete all personal social media accounts. He will not be on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.) for two years.

This information is courtesy of the TSSAA.