Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the News4 I-Team's Chief Investigative Reporter. He has won multiple Midsouth Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Awards.

It frankly irritates Jay Gore.

The coach of McGavock High School’s football team knew he had a strong team for the 2018 season.

Then, he lost a star running back in a surprise transfer to another school, leaving behind his teammates that had played together for years.

“Do I feel bad for my kids when somebody leaves them? Yes I do. Because could we be better? Yes, we could,” Gore said.

Gore is among the high school football coaches, athletes and insiders who spoke with the News4 I-Team, questioning if some players are being deceptive in order to play for teams with better records.

Many question if students are hopping from school to school and lying about their actual addresses.

“It just leaves a bad taste is everybody's mouth,” Gore said.

It doesn’t help that for the first time in recent history for the TSSAA, the governing body of high school sports in Tennessee, three high school football teams in the state had to forfeit the playoffs because investigations uncovered player ineligibility violations linked to transfers.

Northeast High School in Clarksville, Giles County High School and Powell High school all forfeited the playoffs in 2018 because of student in-eligibility.

The News4 I-Team obtained all of the violation letters sent to twenty Tennessee schools this year for playing athletes who weren’t eligible to compete. 

In several of the letters, TSSAA investigations found athletes weren’t playing at schools where their parents actually lived.

“One of the situations was the school was just flat out lied to,” said Bernard Childress, TSSAA executive director.

 In one of the letters sent to Giles County High School, one of the three schools forced to forfeit the playoffs, Childress wrote that the school as provided false information about where an entire athlete’s family was living.

A student athlete is only able to transfer for non-athletic reasons and must move with his entire family unit.

According to the violation letter to Giles County High School, the parents were not forthcoming about where they both were actually living.

Along with having to forfeit the playoffs, the violation cost the school $700 and the athlete was forbidden from participating in any sports for an entire year.

Childress worries that parents have become so obsessed with scholarships and professional sports careers for their children that high school sports are all about winning at all costs.

In one case, Childress remembers a parents getting divorced, and the student athlete went to live with one of his parents and played at a high school with a better performing high school.

A student is able to transfer school if his parents divorce.

But after the season was over, the TSSAA learned the parents had reconciled.

“Do you feel like you were duped?” asked the News4 I-Team.

“Oh, absolutely,” Childress said. “It was someone figuring out how to circumvent the rules.”

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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