The Powell football program must forfeit six wins this season due to the playing of an ineligible player.
In a letter obtained Thursday afternoon from TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress, the Panthers played a student-athlete who “participated in football at another member school last year. The family moved into the Karns High School zone during the school year. The family decided to allow the student to finish the school year at his previous school which, according to the bylaws, is allowed. The student could have used his last opportunity to transfer and be eligible at Karns High School at the beginning of this school year. Instead, the family decided to request an out-of-zone transfer and enrolled him at Powell High School. The administration incorrectly submitted the transfer form by stating the student was eligible due to a bona fide change of address into their zone. The family moved from residence A to B but never moved to residence C in the Powell zone.”
Powell now must forfeit wins over Halls (35-0), Cumberland County (42-0), Karns (49-27), Clinton (35-0), Lenoir City (49-26) and Campbell County (35-21). Three of those wins were Region 3-5A wins: Karns, Clinton and Campbell County.
While said player moved into the Karns zone, per the TSSAA letter, Karns was not the school that blew the whistle on the Powell football program, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed to 5Star Preps. Another team within the region did.
The sources wished to remain anonymous due to their involvement in the matter and chose not to name the player, but did confirm it was an offensive player for the Panthers.
Nevertheless, the penalty levied means Powell’s overall record goes from 6-1 (3-1 Region 3-5A) to now 0-7 overall and 0-4 in region play, which drops the Panthers into last place (seventh) in the region standings. They have two region games left: this Friday at West (3-4, 2-1) and next week at region-leading Oak Ridge (6-1, 3-0).
Only the top four teams from each region make the postseason.
Powell will also have to: pay a $700 fine ($100 for each game the ineligible player participated in), issue letters to all the schools it played and alert them it played an ineligible player and deem the player ineligible for “twice the number of contests he participated in as an ineligible player, or he will be ineligible for the rest of the season, whichever is less,” the TSSAA letter stated.
On Wednesday, Powell athletics director Chad Smith issued a statement that said Powell would “aggressively work with the TSSAA through the appeal process,” that the “circumstances are a result of an assumed incorrect documentation.”
Powell followed with a statement on Thursday — some 75 minutes before the TSSAA released the letter to the media — that intimated that an appeal is no longer on the table. Powell’s statement said the following:
“Powell High School can confirm that the TSSAA is disciplining the football program based upon
the eligibility of a football player. Powell High School incorrectly entered student information
into the TSSAA eligibility portal.
The following is the official statement from Powell High School Athletic Director, Chad Smith.
These circumstances are a result of incorrect documentation. There has never been any effort or
intention whatsoever to misrepresent the athletic interests of Powell High School. We will
comply with all of the instructions set forth by the TSSAA regarding this situation.
The following is the official statement from Powell High School Principal, Dr. Chad Smith.
Powell High School prides itself on being a school that is student-centered and a school that
exhibits integrity both on and off the field and it will continue to be that way. We understand that
it is a new day in Knox County athletics, and we look forward to watching all of our student-athletes compete in future athletic contests.”
Powell athletics director Chad Smith and Powell coach Matt Lowe could not be reached for further comments Thursday afternoon.
Read the full letter from the TSSAA to Powell HERE: