The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association disqualified two high school girls basketball teams from the Tennessee state playoffs after it was determined they both attempted to purposefully lose a game, per Tom Kreager of The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
The actions come after a District 7-AAA consolation matchup between Riverdale High School and Smyrna High School, which Smyrna won 55-29.
Kreager explained why both teams were looking to lose. Following the defeat, Riverdale got placed on the opposite side of the regional bracket from Blackman High School, the defending state and national champion.
A Riverdale administrator contended that team head coach Cory Barrett didn't explicitly instruct his players to lose but rather "talked to them about bracketology" and informed them of how each result would impact their next game.
In his postgame report, the referee who officiated the game felt that the tanking was evident to everybody in attendance, per Kreager:
In the report, the referee noted that Riverdale "missed 12-16 free throws intentionally." And that Smyrna "wouldn't get the ball across the half-court line to get a 10-second count or to make us call an over and back violation intentionally."
The referee said "one time a Riverdale girl looked at one of the officials and gave the official a 3-second signal wanting him to call three seconds on her. Smyrna stood in the lane as well to have us call three seconds on them."
The referee wrote that he finally called the coaches together for a meeting after "a Smyrna player was about to attempt a shot at the wrong basket (but there was a 10-second violation call before they attempted the shot) on purpose."
Videos from the game that popped up on Twitter are particularly damning as well:
As a result of the decision, both schools were fined $1,500, according to Kreager.
Smyrna principal Rick Powell talked about the ruling, via Kreager:
I hate it for the kids because of the actions of the coaches. We pleaded with the TSSAA. We hated that they were penalized. But that was their decision.
We talked about removing them for games, but it may be just one game (if they lost), or it could be two or three… You don't know how many games it would be.
Riverdale principal Tom Nolan was equally disgusted by his school's actions and promised to take action against his coach, according to Kreager's report:
Nolan said he is suspending Barrett for the first two games of the 2015-16 school year.
"It's a total embarrassment," Nolan said. "In my 35 years at Riverdale I've never had that happen. It sends a bad message to everyone. Bottom line is you play the game to win."
With Riverdale and Smyrna out of the playoffs, Tullahoma High School and Lawrence County High School advanced to the Region 4-AAA semifinals.