Fayetteville High School denied playoff bid over ineligible player

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HERMITAGE, Tenn. – The Fayetteville Tigers’ football season is over.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Board of Control voted 6-2 Tuesday to deny the school’s appeal regarding the eligibility of a player on the team.

School leaders showed up to fight the recent decision.
But it wasn’t enough to convince state athletic leaders to let the tigers back in.

The proceeding has left several Tennessee football teams in limbo, including Richland High School.

“We knew something was going to shake loose this week, we didn’t know when,” Richland head coach Nick Patterson said.

Before Tuesday, coach Patterson didn’t know if his there was any reason to practice, he just told the Raiders to be ready.

“For our community, it’s a big deal. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the playoffs,” Patterson said.

12 years to be exact. The Raiders are a four seed. They got the news at lunch time, around the same time Fayetteville players and parents found out their season was over.

The Tigers were cited for reportedly using an ineligible player. Fayetteville school leaders appealed to the state athletic board, arguing a letter sent in September gave the school the board’s blessing.

“I feel bad for their community and the things they’ve had to deal with this season,” Patterson said.

The TSSAA ruled that since Fayetteville didn’t provide busing to the student in question’s address, he was ineligible. That also meant the Tigers had to forfeit six of their games, diminishing an undefeated run to a 4-6 finish.

The four playoff teams in region five, all Fayetteville opponents, are credited with a win. Richland is now 6-4. Coach Patterson has two more days to get his team ready to travel to Huntingdon.

The decision means Huntland, who lost to Fayetteville by six points earlier this season, is now the number one seed.
They’ll host Hollow Rock-Bruceton in the first round this week.

TSSAA claimed it received a complaint that the student’s home was outside the bus routes that Fayetteville High serves, meaning the student was not eligible. The district maintained the student was eligible to play.

The district initially took the case to court and got an injunction against the athletic association, but agreed to let the issue go before the Board of Control for a decision.

The Tigers had mounted a #StateForTate social media campaign earlier this season after one of their players, Tate Tuten, was killed in a wreck.

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