This story was updated Friday, Aug. 2, 2019, at 9:51 p.m. with more information.
The TSSAA has notified Grundy County High School that its football program has been found guilty of recruiting violations. The punishment includes head coach Tracy Hayworth and assistant Nick Meeks each being suspended for two games this season and the program being placed on two years probation.
In a letter sent to the school, TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress stated that the state's high school sports governing body would, however, waive the $1,000 fine that normally would accompany the violations because the school self-reported the infractions.
The punishment comes after it was determined that on July 20, two student-athletes from Sequatchie County High had been allowed into the Grundy County locker room while coaches were present. Those players entered the facility accompanied by Grundy County players and posed for pictures and videos while wearing Grundy County jerseys. The same two visitors then were allowed to ride a team bus to a meet-and-greet with former University of Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs at Tullahoma High School.
Coach Hayworth, who is entering his second season with the Yellow Jackets, will be suspended for home games against South Pittsburg (Aug. 30) and York Institute (Sept. 6) — Grundy's first two games of the season — and will not be allowed on campus during those games. Violation of the suspension will result in immediate dismissal from the program, according to the recommendation by Grundy County administrators.
Meeks will be suspended for the next two games: at home against Bledsoe County (Sept. 13) and at DeKalb County (Sept. 20). He will not be allowed on campus during that time.
Attempts to reach Hayworth for comment were not successful.
"I would like to compliment the administration at Grundy County for working with us," Childress said. "It's better when the administration steps up so that we don't have to get more involved, and that's what they did. We accepted the punishment that their administrators had recommended to us and consider the matter put to rest now, so long as there are no further violations."
Included among the program's probation penalties, the Yellow Jackets will be allowed only one spring scrimmage and one preseason scrimmage — both at home — and a minimum of two coaches present for all offseason weightlifting and conditioning.
Additionally, the school has agreed to place cameras inside the weightroom and coaches' offices, and school administrators stated that Hayworth and Meeks understand that contacting players from other schools via electronic devices in an attempt to encourage them to participate in sports at Grundy County is a direct violation of TSSAA rules and that any future violation would result in immediate termination.
With either Hayworth or Meeks missing the Yellow Jackets' first four games, the team will not have a complete coaching staff working a game until the Sept. 27 trip to Franklin County.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.