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Van Buren School Board Tables Academic Policy for Athletes Discussion

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Van Buren School Board Tables Academic Policy for Athletes Discussion

Van Buren School Board members tabled a decision after almost an hour of discussion regarding academic policies for student-athletes Wednesday.

High School Basketball Coach and Athletic Director Dustin Sullivan brought the topic before the Board to ensure everyone was on the same page before Fall sports seasons begin. Currently, the School Board’s policy is a minimum grade average of 70  to participate, whereas the TSSAA organization’s minimum is 60. Sullivan said no one knows the players better than he does.

“I think that I know best when they need the care that Barry talked about to maybe let them play a little bit, or when they need to sit,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said he has assisted the athletes in various ways in order to help ensure their academic success. He said he has even held multiple players out of practice and kept them from traveling to away games due to academic factors.

“Did they play in some games? Yes, probably about half or something like that, the kids that were in credit recovery,” Sullivan said. “I felt like that was what was best for those kids to motivate them.”

School Board member Barry Austin said the Board’s goal is to consistently set the students up for success. He said he was in favor of making the school system’s minimum average for athletic participation a 70.

“I like that because it says we’re holding students, especially student-athletes to a higher standard,” Austin said.

Austin said most schools in Middle Tennessee operate under the TSSAA’s state-wide ruling that if students have above a 60 they may play. He said sports are a great activity and form of entertainment for many, but they should not be viewed as the only possible career for students.

“In my opinion, we have a sports program to up student morale, up school spirit,” Austin said. “It’s not to send kids to college, it’s to help keep some kids in school.”

Austin also cited how sports may be one of the few reasons that some student-athletes continue to attend class as they may not be able to participate otherwise.

“We know there are some kids every year that are right on the border, and if they’re not playing ball, they are probably going to quit,” Austin said. ”

Austin said he views the situation as trusting the coaches to allow the students to play under the right circumstances. However, he said if they are not capable of doing so the Board should replace the coach rather than tying their hands so the coaches don’t have the ability to enforce rules.

The post Van Buren School Board Tables Academic Policy for Athletes Discussion appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.