published Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Signal Mountain not planning court bid after TSSAA appeal denied

Jeff Price, father of Signal Mountain player Andrew Price, wears a ribbon in support of player Tim McClendon before the game against Chattanooga Christian at Signal Mountain High School in this file photo from Oct. 14, 2011.
Jeff Price, father of Signal Mountain player Andrew Price, wears a ribbon in support of player Tim McClendon before the game against Chattanooga Christian at Signal Mountain High School in this file photo from Oct. 14, 2011.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Do you agree with the TSAA decision on Signal Mountain's appeal?

For the second time this season, Signal Mountain High School's football team has seen its hopes dashed.

The school on Thursday appealed the TSSAA's Oct. 7 ruling that the team used an ineligible player and would have six wins vacated. Friday the Eagles learned that the appeal to the TSSAA's Board of Control was denied.

"Tim McClendon [the player ruled ineligible] and the football program at Signal Mountain will continue to have success. This is just another hurdle that we'll have to get over," coach Bill Price said.

"I appreciate the Board of Control listening to our argument. I still think the information we [originally] gave the TSSAA was not deceitful. I think the kid was eligible. However, they ruled against us and we have to move on and play this last football game."

Signal principal Tom McCullough confirmed that the process will not become an issue for the courts.

"We talked again about that yesterday, and there's no need in carrying it further," he said. "Through the TSSAA we had a chance to appeal. We made that appeal and they have denied it. We have reached the end of the line on appeals. That's the process the TSSAA has set up, and we will abide by that process."

McCullough also said he did not know of any plan for anyone to file any kind of suit specifically on McClendon's behalf.

The principal and the coach believe that even the denied appeal could cause changes in the wording of some of the organization's bylaws and eligibility clarifications.

"There's no doubt," Price said. "I think [what constitutes] hardships in the state of Tennessee will be made more clear."

McCullough also would like to see additional or enhanced direction and verbiage regarding students granted hardships and state rules.

"I believe they need to look at the wording of their definitions and provide a little more clarity," he said.

When asked if he thought Signal Mountain's situation was isolated, McCullough said, "I don't know for sure -- I have no evidence -- but I am confident there are similar situations."

When asked if thought the appeal process had been a waste of time, Price said no.

"The meeting we had and the appeals process -- everything we needed to say on behalf of Signal Mountain has been said," the coach said.

He did, however, have some thoughts on a comment in Friday's Times Free Press attributed to TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress.

Childress was quoted, in part, as saying, "'I can say honestly that we were notified by numerous administrators that we needed to look into four student-athletes who had transferred to Signal Mountain. We were told that Bill Price had bragged they had recruited them in because they were good players. Any time we get a tip with the word 'recruiting' we first have to determine if there is enough evidence to pursue it."

To which the coach said, "As far as some comments made by people in high places in the TSSAA, I have never been accused of recruiting and I never boasted of it, so people who made those remarks don't know me or have never spoken to me."

Price did accept blame for what the TSSAA had called a "mistake" in completing the eligibility form.

"I'm sorry for the football team, the players and the community," he said. "Ultimately the buck stops with me. I filled out the eligibility form and was not trying to deceive anyone. I thought we had covered all bases on Tim's eligibility."

There is a possibility that the TSSAA will allow McClendon to play next week in Signal's final 2011 game at Sequatchie County. That reportedly will depend on whether coaches at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, his former school, can provide video documentation of how many days McClendon practiced with the Warriors last spring.

Regardless, Price said Signal Mountain's team and its fans would act in an appropriate and sportsmanlike fashion next Friday.

"We will represent ourselves at Sequatchie County, and our fans will represent us as one would expect," he said.

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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cartman said...

It sounds like Signal still isn't clear on TSSAA rules. When you participate in varsity sports and change schools you MUST sit out 1 year. Hardship and No Child Left Behind does not have anything to do with athletics.

October 22, 2011 at 12:48 a.m.
chattanoogatazz said...

south pitt just mad cause they got their behind handed to them by signal lol the only other program in the area that comes close is Callhoun, Georgia Yellow Jackets. When they gonna put them two teams on the field. I would love to see The Yellowjackets play South Pitt this year it would end up like 85 to 25. The End!

October 22, 2011 at 6:55 a.m.
TDMan said...

If I were Buddy Childress I wouldn't sleep at night until I investigated and determined that every member high school football team has 100 percent eligible players legally living within 20 miles of the school they are attending. It will take only one - repeat - only one ineligible player to have a court uphold charges of TSSAA discrimination against Signal. 'Nuff said...stay tuned.

October 22, 2011 at 10:19 a.m.
ChattVegas said...

chattanoogatazz - don't think South Pitt had anything to do with this. This was not about Tim McClendon - it was about a coach, maybe a few coaches that felt compelled to reel in Bill Price and his program up on Signal.

Note that the only issue found was a paperwork mistake.

Maybe winning programs come off as arrogant - and that is hard to stomach when you are on the receiving end of a beat down - but I think the TSSAA came off a little arrogant as well.

This was a hit job - IRS audit style - to get a Bill Price.

The fix was in.

I notice that whoever turned in Signal has not come forward and remains anonymous to this day. While many say that is not the point - I say put everything out there.

Congrats to East Hamilton on there win over RedBank. This new school is also receiving great community support - and fortunately for them - they were not successful right out of the box.

October 22, 2011 at 11:02 a.m.
ChattVegas said...

TDMAN - I think Childress will sleep just fine. The Tssaa assumes accuracy on the paperwork turned in by school officials. That is why they initially ruled McClendon was good to play last summer.

They depend on people reporting allegations of broken rules to launch investigations.

In this case - Bill Price has been around for a while - and in the process he has rubbed some people the wrong way. ON top of that - Signal Mtn exploded on the scene. And the beat downs were too much to take for some.

The rest is history.

October 22, 2011 at 11:11 a.m.
TDMan said...

ChattaVegas, TDMan is in agreement with most of what you say. But the practice of assumption may trip up Mister Childress and his TSSAA controllers. There are some very vulnerable coaches who should be praying that nobody reports the ineligible players on their rosters. The childish weasal who exploited an innocent clerical error at Signal has unthinkingly opened Pandora's box.

October 22, 2011 at 11:44 a.m.
fan said...

I bet Gossett was chomping at the bit to put a "signal" slant on this article, but unfortunately Signal coudn't "run up the score" against the TSSAA, no gaudy stats to brag about here I hope they Signal players learn at some point that outside of athletics "running up the score" won't work and can't be done in any other area in life Signal will always be "Dazed and Confused"

October 22, 2011 at 1:21 p.m.
TDMan said...

So what would those who attack Signal for running up the score have the team do? When the Eagles are up against a weak sister you would have them roll over and play dead? You see what happens when the school tried to take Equal Opportunity to the playing field. It was burned badly. I haven't seen it written anywhere that a stronger team should go easy on the Eagles. The nonsense being deposited here by the envious doesn't even qualify as common sense.The only way the weak sisters could beat the Eagles was to cnspire to have a winning season removed from the record book. But that doesn't remove the fact that the Signal football team, with or without, a 240-pound running back is still THE CHAMPION team it was before the TSSAA's slate cleaners got involved.

October 22, 2011 at 1:50 p.m.
67melissamb said...

For anyone that cares, Tim McClendon is holding up well. Why? Because he has an amazing group of teammates, fellow students, and an entire community standing behind him! Is he disappointed...absolutely. Glad to have him here on the mountain! We know our team worked their butts off and we know that they achieved a lot! What really is a championship win worth for whoever goes... winning it this way?

October 22, 2011 at 2:39 p.m.
hcdeparent said...

It just amazes me how things can change so quickly. You know it use to be and possibly still is that the only blacks that were on Signal Mountain were the ladies that rode the bus up and down the mountain to clean the white folk's houses. Now look at you ....get a good ball player that can help you all out in wins and you rally around him. But what if all the students that come up the mountain from Howard wanted to be your neighbor.... would you love them as much? They might like to have one of those brow homes like you....or play golf at your exclusive "country club". You better watch about what you wish for...Signal may never be the same.

October 22, 2011 at 4:09 p.m.
LZD2011 said...

TDMan, my son plays for one of the "weak sisters" as you call it and I would NEVER expect any team to lay down so another team doesn't feel bad. I just expect that when SM has a huge lead then you should put in the scout team to give them the chance for some field time to hone their skills so they will be ready when the big dogs are gone. But oh, I forgot, they can just go "find" other less fortunate studs who can carry the rock and save them from any of the other schools in the tri-state area, so that they can get that Top Notch education from Signal and make them scholars in....what....say 9 months cause the Lord knows that was the only motive for this fiasco.

October 22, 2011 at 7:26 p.m.
Dennis52 said...

The issue is not that other schools are angry and therefore are trying to get even with Signal Mountain. The issue is right and wrong. McClendon had to have known when he played last at LFO. The Coaches and Administrative Staff had to have known this also. If not then they didn't do their job as they should. The TSSAA made the right call. Signal Mountain left them no other choice. If a person break into a store and steals and is caught he is punished. If a murderer kills he is punished. Now I realize this is completely a different situation but the principle is the same. Signal Mountain broke a rule and knew they were doing it. As a 30 year retiree in Georgia I have seen this happen to many times. Signal Is just upset because they got caught. We can justify anything in America today no matter how wrong it is. You just turn your head and look the other way. I feel sorry for this student because the adult who were suppose to be taking care of him and his best interest dropped the ball. Now the student in question is the one to suffer. He will survive and will be better for doing it. The adult who were involved in allowing this to happen should be the ones held responsible for the actions. These people are veteran coaches and a veteran principal. I think Hamilton County Schools need to investigate this future and punish the ones who are truly responsible for this error, if such an error existed in the first place. They are the ones that needs to be held accountable for their actions that brought embarrassment to this school and community. It is a sad day in our country when we no longer have standards for anything. When sport become so important over the well being of the child and when winning at any cost to the point of playing players who are not eligible to play then this practice must be stopped. It simply isn't right in any shape, form or fashion. Yes, we are in sad times when winning becomes more important than a child's education or well being. I applaud the TSSAA for making the right call. They need to be praised for doing their job. Thank you TSSAA. Now I don't have it in for Signal Mountain in what I have written. We will survive this and in the grand scheme of the whole picture we will be better for it. Thank you

October 23, 2011 at 1:55 a.m.
67melissamb said...
<p>@hcdeparent....I find your comment highly offensive! You are assuming that everyone that lives on the mountain is prejudice because we couldn't POSSIBLY just CARE for someone that is black! According to YOU, we only care about Tim because of what he can do for our team! LOL man...I guess because the community is predominantly white we couldn't possibly be accepting of any other ethenticity! Well, FYI..I am a resident of Signal Mountain. I have a son that dates a beautiful young lady that happens to be black...SO WHAT? Does the color of ones skin define them? Seems like you are making it more of an issue than the people in this community do. Sure you will find some prejudice on Signal Mountain...just as you do any where else in the city! Tim is not well loved because he is a great football player...the students, teachers, and community appreciate him for being the kind, warm, person that he is! He is always smiling and has a great personality. Maybe YOU should get to know him to see what WE see! Maybe then you will not make such ignorant comments! I, for one, DO have a black neighbor and it suits me JUST FINE!

October 23, 2011 at 3:08 a.m.
Dennis52 said...

Why does everything have to center around a racial question? I wouldn't even bother to respond to such a statement. It is a waste of time and energy on a subject that simply isn't true. Come on don't bring the color of skin into this matter. This is not the issue. Thank you

October 23, 2011 at 5:33 a.m.
fan said...

I'm glad the picture showed only the ribbon and not the shotgun over Jeff Price's shoulder because " if you mess with one man...". why do you think the police that arrested those kids last year before the championship game let them go before they took them in...?

October 23, 2011 at 10:42 a.m.
fan said...

all bashing aside for a second, what about this view point: as a Signal parent of a Senior ( or junior for that matter) this would be my viewpoint, this season is toast, with that said we start looking to next year, yes, Tim McClendon has been admirable and i have the utmost respect for this youngster but remember he has been a part of the Signal Mtn football community only since the the latter part of summer ( only about 3 months) I think about all the seniors that have been with the program for 6 years(juniors who have 5), alot of them have played very little, why not let those that have been dedicated the longest play alot, reward them for their hard effort over the years ( the fact is these under recognized players played very little in the blow out games vs. Notre Dame and "senior night"vs CCS) why is the 3 month wonder boy given the same rewards as those that have been through middle school and up... give the true "workers' thier due wages, they have earned it

October 23, 2011 at 12:01 p.m.
TDMan said...

fanman I'm in complete agreement. The outpouring of sympathy for McLendon is one thing. What about some understanding and appreciation of the other 49. I'm in favor of McLendon's sitting out the final game. Signal would have emerged with a championship season without this young man. At least give the senior players who have been shunted aside by McLendon's playing their well deserved moments in the spotlight. Let's show Sequatchie High's team that their principal Tommy Layne may have cost Signal six wins and a shot at the playoffs, but the Eagles can still triumph big time Friday night. GO EAGLES! WHUP 'EM GOOD....

October 23, 2011 at 5:47 p.m.
redandblack said...

Go Eagles!!!! Let's show everyone what good football and sportsmanship is really like. We definitely have them both. We're pulling for you.

October 23, 2011 at 6:54 p.m.
barb said...

TD, I'm pretty sure the defending 4A champs might have been thrown a wrench in their "championship season". SM ain't kicking 2A puppies this year.

October 23, 2011 at 9:48 p.m.
sandstorm66 said...

Like I've said before tear down the school and put a sewer plant in its place because of all the crap spewwing from the coaches and administration!!!!!! Feel bad for the honest kids and have no sympathy for them and have none for the arrogant ones and their parents!!!!

October 24, 2011 at 4:56 p.m.
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