Last month high school supervisor Wes Smith presented the Board of Education with a request from Volunteer H.S. to form a boys volleyball club.
Although the TSSAA doesn't sanction boys volleyball, the athletic directors of the Big Seven Conference recently agreed to form teams and compete within the conference in the spring after basketball season ends.
What complicated the boys volleyball "club" request, however, was the BOE's policy — mirrored after federal law — prohibiting gender discrimination in extracurricular activities.
Last month the BOE asked Smith to return to the Oct. 4 meeting with potential solutions, including advice from the Tennessee School Board Association.
Smith was also asked to gauge interest in a boys volleyball team at all three high schools.
To answer the second question first, although Clinch School wasn't interested in boys volleyball, a survey at both main high schools revealed 30 boys were interested at Cherokee, and 35 boys were interested at Volunteer.
"I consulted with TSBA and was advised it would be possible to remain compliant with our policy and the law if the board determines to offer men's volleyball as a sport, as opposed to an extracurricular, or student club, " Smith told the board. "TSSAA doesn't currently sanction men’s volleyball, but that's not a huge concern because swimming that we offer is not sanctioned by TSSAA also. If the board wishes to approve, my recommendation would be to do so as a non-sanctioned sport, not as a student activity and not as a club."
Smith noted that boys volleyball would be covered by Tennessee Risk Management which provides the school system with liability insurance, as long as it is a school approved and supervised activity.
The BOE approved Smith's recommendation 5-0, but tabled the question of how much the coaches should be paid.
Smith said the head coaches of girls volleyball teams at Volunteer and Cherokee "have been agreeable" to the possibility of coaching the boys in the spring.
The board discussed how much it should pay the coaches. Smith noted that there's currently very little wiggle room in the athletic coach stipend budget. Last year there was only $1,100 in that budget line item.
Currently the two girls head volley ball coaches are paid $1,366, the assistant is paid $854, and the freshman coach is paid $854 — all of which are in the county schools budget. There are also school paid volleyball assistants who receive a maximum of $512.
The board tabled a vote on coach pay, and asked Smith to return next month with a pay recommendation after speaking to both principals and potential coaches.
Smith said other expenses for the team should be minimal. The Big Seven athletic directors have agreed to a simple uniform consisting of a t-shirt and gym shorts.
Board chairman Bob Larkins had expressed support for the boys volleyball teams because it's a growing collegiate sport. Four Tennessee colleges have men's volleyball teams including King University, Lincoln Memorial University, Bryan College in Chattanooga and Cumberland University near Nashville.