For bold steps in trying to curb foul behavior by coaches, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) and its executive director Bernard Childress received a Great Call Award from NASO on July 22.
In his letter, NASO President Barry Mano stated: “The TSSAA came out publicly in support of a harsh penalty to signify that improper behavior, in this case against an umpire, is not going to be dealt with lightly.”
Childress told Tennessee’s Times Free Press: “It’s up to the administrators to take action that is appropriate for whatever the violation is, and in this incident, the action that the school administration had submitted was not appropriate for the behavior of their coaches,” he said. “We have to penalize appropriately so we can send a message to others that this will not be tolerated.”
Childress was referring to the behavior of Haywood High School baseball coach Dusty Rhodes in a 6-4 loss to Sequatchie County in a May playoff game.
Both Rhodes and assistant Alex Whitwell were ejected, and Rhodes had to be restrained by players and staff as he argued an illegal pitch call. Rhodes kicked dirt on the umpires and followed them around the field.
Per TSSAA, both Rhodes and his assistant must sit out the first two games of next season and the baseball program was placed on restrictive probation for two years with the athletic program being placed on probation for two years. Under restrictive probation, a team is not eligible to participate in the postseason and cannot receive any award recognizing its regular season accomplishments.
Further, the baseball program was fined $2,000 and the athletic program was fined an additional $2,000 along with Rhodes and Whitwell being fined $250 each.
“Having an organization like the TSSAA, its Board of Control and you speak out and loudly about the need for civility and decorum means a great deal to the men, women and young people who officiate sports,” Mano wrote in his letter to Childress.