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Does the punishment fit the infraction for Elizabethton?

By:  Tim Chambers

Tomahawk Sports Editor

Here is the question that high school basketball fans have been debating for the past several days. Did the TSSAA get it right or not?
Undefeated Elizabethton (31-0) was on the verge of being slam dunked from playing for its second state championship but ended up receiving only a touch foul.
I’ve spoken to eight different school officials and coaches who asked to remain anonymous about the situation and many are upset with the “wrist slap” handed down to ‘Betsy. The main topic of concern appears to be the current players.
Were they at fault in this wrong doing? Let’s examine all the evidence before making a decision.

Topic of Discussion
A rising eighth grade player from a junior high school program (outside of Carter County) was attending one of Elizabethton’s practices. Some have indicated that the girl in question was dressed out and shooting on a side goal at a freshman practice. Others say her grandmother brought her up to meet Coach Len Dugger after an invite from assistant coach Russ Lyon.
The whistle was blown at that point. It was heard in Nashville at the TSSAA headquarters, or was it?
Elizabethton school officials stepped in at some point to report the above stated violation. I applaud them for that.
They also said that any further punishment handed down other than that handed down by the TSSAA would be administered after the basketball season ended.

I don’t applaud them for that and here is why.
Assistant coaches are required to take an online coaching class before they can represent that school on the bench. I did the class online two years ago as a member of the girls’ basketball coaching staff at Unaka High School.
I was also made aware of when and when not we could practice. I knew the exact date that the junior high players could join our team practices and it was cut and dry that they would not be inside our gym while the coaches were present until that date.
It’s all about following the rules and guidelines handed down by the TSSAA. You had to get it right or be punished.

It’s the same methods taught to our student athletes.  We remind them to stay on top of things and don’t fall behind in their work. They are urged to study for a quiz or exam. Each student is held accountable for his or her grade. This should apply to basketball coaches too.
​ ​Guilt wasn’t admitted until they were caught. The question one must ask is, “How long had this gone on unnoticed?”

Closing Arguments
A good high school basketball player wants to play for a winning program and a proven coach. Elizabethton offers both.
Elizabethton also treats girls’ basketball and softball the same as they do boys’ basketball and baseball. They surround their teams with the best possible coaches that in return will bring the school success.

There is no rule that says a good classroom teacher can’t be a good coach. And I applaud them for that because we should give our kids the best of everything and that includes coaches.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahaw.