By KEVIN WEAKS
Football coaches now have a few extra days for their players to turn up the heat.
Basketball coaches now have more room to roam.
Two changes are coming to Tennessee high school athletics as the result of approvals from the TSSAA Board of Control.
Wednesday’s second day of the board’s June meetings concluded with the nine-person panel approving a measure to give football teams more time in helmets and shoulder pads prior to the beginning of full-pad practice and approving another proposal to more than double the size of the basketball coaches box.
An adjustment to this year’s football calendar will allow teams to put on both helmets and shoulder pads for at least three days beginning on Monday, July 22.
The calendar allows teams 15 days of practice from the end of the summer dead period until the Monday, week of Aug. 1.
The teams will be allowed 10 days of no-pad practice, with helmets, where teams can work out against other teams. This mainly refers to 7-on-7 passing camps.
Over those final five days, players will be allowed to put on shoulder pads with helmets in an effort to get accustomed to playing in the heat with pads on. Teams are required to use at least three of those final days for helmet-shoulder pad practices but can use all five.
“This was a recommendation from the TSSAA and the medical people,” board member Chuck West said. “Those final five days in helmets and shoulder pads do not allow teams to work out against other schools.”
Inside gymnasiums across the state, coaches will have more room to roam.
Adapting the official coaches box in the NFHS basketball rule book, the box has been extended from six feet to 14 feet.
Measured along the sideline in front of each team’s bench, the box will start 14 feet from each baseline and extend to 28 feet from the baseline.
“It was done mainly to help coaches do their jobs,” said West, the principal at Dresden High School and a former basketball coach himself.
In another vote considering football, the board tabled a proposal from the Division II (private) schools to be included in the weekend rotation for the football state championships.
Currently, the two D-II state title games are played on Thursday, the day before the six public school state title games begin.
The board put off voting on the proposal due to concerns about the short turnaround time for any Division I schools that would have to play on Thursday.
“The big thing is that the private schools have two weeks to prepare for their state championship games, while the public schools are coming in just one week, usually Thanksgiving weekend, after playing in the semifinals. That, plus the Mr. Football selections and the meeting on Monday before the championship games the teams are required to attend would cut down on preparation time to maybe a day and a half.”
In other board actions:
• Region 7A was approved to begin its basketball tournament a day early, on a Thursday, to avoid playing the girls’ championship game on the following Wednesday.
• Approved TSSAA membership for George A. Thomas Jr. Academy in Jackson.
The school for at-risk children currently enrolls 32 students, grades 9-12, and will participate in cross country, boys’ basketball and track and will be placed in Division I, Class A, District 15.
• Continued its association with Huddle, Inc. to provide tickets to state championship events. Through an agreement where the Governor’s Highway Safety program purchases the tickets with their safety slogans (click it or ticket, booze it and lose it, etc.) printed on them, the TSSAA does not have to pay for the tickets, and schools do not have to purchase tickets to be used by staff members.
• Approved the state office to form a partnership with Vanderbilt Sports Medicine to provide athletic trainers for TSSAA championship events. Baptist Sports Medicine will no longer be the official medical provider.
Published in The Messenger 6.13.13