The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association was declared the functional equivalent of a state agency Friday and declared to be subject to the Tennessee Open Records Act.
Responding to a lawsuit filed by The City Paper earlier this year, Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman granted the newspaper’s motion, agreeing that the TSSAA is the state’s de facto regulatory body for high school athletics and therefore subject to records requests.
As part of an investigation into recruiting violations at Montgomery Bell Academy, The City Paper requested documents from the TSSAA in January but was denied by the organization. The paper petitioned the court for access to the records in February.
The TSSAA had previously been declared a state actor in a 2001 Supreme Court decision involving a dispute between the association and Brentwood Academy over recruiting rules.
“This is a good day for open records,” said editor Steve Cavendish. “We strongly believed that the TSSAA is the equivalent of a state body. They’re the only game in town for high school athletics. Their actions affect student athletes across the state, both public and private. The Supreme Court said so in 2001, and we’re glad the chancellor did today.”
The case is City Press Communications vs. TSSAA.