Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Riding the Dusty Rhodes - Failing the Kids

When Haywood High School declined to "add any extra games" to 2019 baseball head coach Jeff "Dusty" Rhodes' two-game suspension for his two-plus minute post-ejection tirade at an umpire during the Tennessee State tournament, principal Latonya Jackson's (in)action added to a critical chain of events that ultimately harmed student-athletes in western Tennessee.

What happened and how did the kids get left out in the cold?

Summary: After first-year Haywood HS coach Rhodes was ejected arguing an illegal pitch ruling during a state tournament game, he kicked at the umpire and purportedly made physical contact with the game official as he followed the umpire and continued to yell at him as portrayed in a popular two-minute video of the incident.
Related PostTSSAA Sends Message After Coach's Ump Kick (5/31/19).

TSSAA punished the school after misconduct.
Afterward, the school announced it would not discipline Rhodes beyond the minimum penalty prescribed in the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA)'s constitution, which led TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress to issue more severe sanctions against Haywood HS itself, as the TSSAA handbook prohibits the state from punishing coaches beyond the minimum penalty; the book is written to empower schools to discipline their own employees. Meanwhile, TSSAA is authorized to punish the violative schools and programs for the actions of employees and coaches, as well as for a failure to address instances of misconduct. Haywood High School appealed the penalty and the West Tennessee TSSAA Board of Control upheld Childress' sanctions, which include a two-year postseason ban for the Haywood HS baseball team.
Related PostUpdate - TSSAA Upholds Haywood Penalty (7/21/19).

What happened this season in Tennessee is the result of a series of events.
1) The TSSAA constitution is written to prohibit TSSAA from supplemental discipline of coaches.
2) Haywood HS hires a previously-fired coach who engages in a severe instance of misconduct.
3) Haywood HS fails to discipline said coach adequately for the aforementioned incident.
4) TSSAA, due to rule restriction, issues supplemental discipline to school program.

TSSAA found Haywood's penalty insufficient.
Video Analysis: As the following video indicates, this hurts the students in Tennessee, but who is primarily responsible? The obvious answer is Rhodes, through his on-field actions (though he did attempt to blame the umpire). Another potential candidate is TSSAA, for issuing a penalty barring the team from the 2020/2021 playoffs. Yet, ultimately, as this video illustrates, the primary failure lies with Haywood High School for failing to discipline Rhodes adequately, leaving TSSAA no choice but to issue harsh sanctions that—pursuant to bylaws that the schools themselves write—affected the program and not the coach, who may very well leave Haywood for another school, just as he left Hardin County HS the year before, and several years after he was fired by the Decatur County Board of Education (where, oddly enough, he appears to serve as a board-member).

Alternate Link: Haywood High School baseball ban harms student-athletes (CCS)


Post a Comment