To our readers:
Today The City Paper filed suit in Davidson County Chancery Court for access to public records held by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. We would like to see inside its investigatory process and learn exactly how the organization functions as it applies its rules on financial aid and student athlete eligibility.
The TSSAA is the regulatory body for high school athletics in the state of Tennessee. Though nominally a private organization, it is largely funded by public tax dollars in the form of membership fees and gate receipts from tournament games played in public facilities, and its Board of Control is filled with public officials. It is so intertwined with public resources that the U.S. Supreme Court declared it a state actor in the course of its landmark case against Brentwood Academy.
But even more important than its public status is the power it wields over the lives of students. Simply, it is the only game in town if you are an athlete or school in Tennessee. We believe that a little sunshine on the TSSAA might be beneficial for everyone. Doing things in the open increases accountability, and that’s something that might actually help the TSSAA in its mission to provide a level field for athletes to play on.
We feel certain that the TSSAA will resist this in court. It has shown hostility toward sunshine in the past, going so far as to file amicus briefs in support of Corrections Corporation of America’s ongoing fight against open records. But we believe that it is important to hold powerful bodies accountable and one of the best ways to do that is through the Tennessee Public Records Act.