Student Well-Being

Tenn. Girls’ Basketball Teams Punished for Allegedly Trying to Throw Game

By Bryan Toporek — February 25, 2015 1 min read

Turns out “tanking” isn’t a problem limited to just the National Basketball Association.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association removed Riverdale High School and Smyrna High School from the state’s high school girls’ basketball postseason Monday for intentionally trying to lose a game this past weekend..

In letters sent to Riverdale principal Tom Nolan and Smyrna principal Rick Powell (via TNdigital), Bernard Childress, the association’s executive director, said both teams “made a mockery” of their game on Saturday, “with both teams initially trying to lose in order to avoid going into the region seeded third.”

“There was obvious slow-play, intentional turnovers, free throws being missed on purpose, intentional lane violations, five-second inbound and ten-second line violations,” Childress wrote. “It was even reported that players were being instructed to shoot in their opponent’s goal.”

The head referee of the game told Childress that Riverdale began the game in a 2-3 zone defense—a departure from its typical man-to-man look—and that the Smyrna coach quickly responded by subbing out all of his starters. Both teams started the second half with their respective starters on their bench, according to the head referee, and things escalated to the point where a player was about to attempt a shot at the wrong basket.

“That is when I called both coaches together and told them we are not going to make a travesty or mockery of the game,” the head referee said, per Childress’ letter. “WE ARE NOT GOING TO START TRYING TO SHOOT AND SCORE FOR THE OTHER TEAM.”


The association placed both schools’ girls’ basketball programs on restrictive probation for the rest of the school year and probation for the 2015-16 school year, according to

Tom Kreager of the

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.