Overton, Antioch football get two-year TSSAA postseason ban for postgame brawl
The TSSAA Board of Control wasn’t prepared to lift the postseason bans placed on the Antioch and Overton football programs on Thursday.
It did, however, agree to a plan for them to regain eligibility for the 2019 playoffs as long as certain conditions are met.
“Whatever it takes to get these schools and these kids together,” TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said. “We’re not interested in penalizing a school or penalizing a kid for a long period of time. We’re interested in changing the culture.”
Both programs were placed on two-year restrictive probation after a brawl broke out between the two teams in the postgame handshake line on Oct. 26. That included a postseason ban in 2018 and 2019 and a $2,000 fine.
The two schools will have another chance to appeal the sanctions in June.
The principals at both Metro Nashville Public Schools appeared at the meeting in Hermitage to appeal the sanctions, and both presented plans to improve sportsmanship and fan control at their respective schools.
“We’re all school administrators that want to have first-class programs to serve our kids,” Overton principal Jill Pittman said. “We came with a good plan. We think it was positively received, and I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Pittman presented several steps her school is taking to improve sportsmanship, including:
- All students involved in the incident have been suspended for the first game of 2019.
- Make personnel changes to its football coaching staff to improve leadership and culture.
- Develop a game security plan that includes increased administrator presence on the field and sideline.
- Create a mandatory sportsmanship, conduct and character development curriculum that all athletes must complete.
Antioch principal Clarissa Zellars stated that all Antioch students identified as participating in the incident, along with Bears coach Mike Head, were disciplined in accordance with MNPS policy.
Head has since resigned, and Zellars said the school plans to replace the entire staff. The new coach, she added, will receive training related to leadership in developing behavioral expectations and sportsmanship.
Antioch also plans to add a community service component to its athletics program and to ensure that additional administration and staff be present at any athletic event between the two schools.
“It would have been great to have a decision today, but at least they’re listening to us,” Zellars said. “We’re going to do those things. We were planning on doing things anyway, so I feel good about it.”
Cane Ridge principal and Board of Control member Michel Sanchez believes the two schools will collaborate in order to achieve their goals.
“As principals we see and talk to each other monthly, so I’m confident that they’re going to work together,” Sanchez said.
Reach Michael Murphy at email@example.com, 615-259-8026, and on Twitter @Murph_TNsports.