Tennessee’s state Senate unanimously approved a bill Monday that would allow homeschooled students to participate in public school sports, and a similar bill was introduced in the North Carolina House on Tuesday.
These so-called “Tebow bills” earn their nickname from former New York Jets and Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who was famously homeschooled as a high schooler in Florida but still played football for a public school team.
The Tennessee bill would allow homeschooled students to play on public school teams so long as the student is being homeschooled by a parent or guardian, expresses his or her interest in athletic participation for the upcoming school year by Aug. 1, and is found to meet the same academic and conduct standards as regular public school student-athletes.
Under the bill, if an organization that regulates interscholastic athletics (such as the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association) adopts rules strictly defining which homeschooled students would be eligible for athletics, schools would also be required to follow such rules. The current TSSAA policy allows districts to decide on their own whether to allow homeschooled students to participate in athletics, so long as the homeschooled students meet the same academic standards as their public school student-athlete counterparts.
This new legislation wouldn’t guarantee a homeschooled student-athlete a spot on the team, but would guarantee any eligible homeschooled athlete a chance to at least try out. Any students who were ineligible for interscholastic athletics when they withdrew from public or private school would have to wait at least one grading period to re-establish eligibility before being allowed to participate, however.
After being unanimously passed by the Senate, the bill now moves to the House’s education committee. Matthew Gillespie, TSSAA’s assistant executive director, told the .
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.