Thursday, June 21, 2007

Over-reaching at Brentwood

Back in April I spoke on one of our Sunday Sports Final radio podcasts about the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's case against Brentwood Academy. Brentwood was accused of violating TSSAA's anti-recruiting rules. Rules such as this are common among nearly all state-sanctioning bodies of high school sports, and they are designed to protect those schools with lesser means against the recruiting and alumni power of wealthy schools (many of which are private but certainly not all).

I support anti-recruiting provisions in principle, and I have no problem with the idea that schools should follow them. The catch in the Brentwood case is that the head football coach at Brentwood wrote letters to a few young men and invited them to football tryouts, and these boys were already enrolled at Brentwood. It would be one thing in my mind if the young men in question had been students at another school and the coach had done this. In a case like that, it would have been a blatant violation of anti-recruiting rules. In this situation, I failed to see the difference between what the coach did in writing letters to three already-incoming students and stopping the same students in the hall and asking them to go out for the football team. Coaches do the latter all the time-they certainly did when I was in school.

The United States Supreme Court saw it differently. I don't have the numbers, but considering that John Paul Stevens wrote the opinion of the Court, I am guessing that there was some conservative dissent here. This is over-reaching on the part of both the Court and the TSSAA.

NOTE: (8:09 pm) The Court decision was unanimous, 9-0-a fact that I find extremely surprising.

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At Thursday, June 21, 2007 3:44:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...


The article that you linked to said that the decision of the Court was unanimous.

Do you know if those students who received the letters had already committed to playing for the football team?

I would imagine that the Court might have found differently if that were the case. After thinking about it, I can understand why the court found for the TSSAA if the boys were enrolled only at the school and had not actually decided to go out for football.

It might seem like a meaningless difference, but if the students were simply going to the school and had not previously decided to play football, then the letters could be construed as "recruiting".

With that said, I still disagree with the decision. I'd much prefer a less restrictive environment, as long as player rights were safeguarded.


At Thursday, June 21, 2007 3:58:00 PM, Blogger Matt Daley said...

Here is the address for the opinion written by Justice Stevens:


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