Wilson County School Board decides to keep club sports
Sep 4, 2012 10:22 PM
Reported By Heather Jensen, Reporter - bio | email
WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. -
The Wilson County School Board has decided to let club sports continue in partnership with local schools, but only if the sports teams are designated as a 501(c)3.
The board's decision comes after speculation that club sports would no longer be able to compete in affiliation with Wilson County schools.
Board members had concerns about regulation of the teams that are not funded or staffed by the school system.
Coaches, students and parents packed Tuesday's meeting in support of club sports, specifically swimming.
"I just want you to understand, our kids take great pride, whether they're with Wilson Central or Lebanon or Mt Juliet. There is no bigger deal for them then to say 'I swim for my high school,'" Mt. Juliet Swim Coach Sue Copeland told board members.
Swimming is not recognized by the TSSAA, the body that governs most school sports. Swimming is considered a club sport, but without school partnerships, teams cannot compete on a local or national level.
"If we lose the school affiliation, that's for all of our programs, we will not be allowed to compete," said Kristi Dean, a parent of a Lebanon High School swim team member.
"We have done everything we can to follow not only regulations for school sports, but also those of school clubs," added Lebanon High School Swim Coach Andrea Morris.
The board decided a 501(c)3 designation, also known as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, would allow the school system limited control over the teams, prevent district liability and allow teams to continue to compete.
The swim team at Wilson Central High School in Lebanon already has a 501(c)3 designation, but Mt. Juliet and Lebanon high schools will need to apply.
"I did not know coming in tonight that that's what they were going to say, so I'm thrilled that that's where we're at," said Wilson Central High School Swim Coach Alex Major.
"I feel positive about that. Now, if we get it done in a timely fashion so we can meet our registration deadlines and get kids in the water, it'll be great," added Copeland.
The Wilson County School Board has agreed to provide a list of requirements and provisions for the teams by next week.
The tentative agreement will also allow teams to continue with the current swim season while teams apply for 501(c)3 status.
Other club sports, including ice hockey and lacrosse, are also eligible for continued school partnerships if they adhere to the same standards.