KHSAA clarifies position

October 10, 2013

Chris Slone

PDT Sports Editor

Kentucky High School post-game handshakes are banned. Or are they?

In a written statement released Wednesday, Kentucky Athletic Association Commissioner Julan Tackett clarified remarks he had released the prior day.

On Tuesday, Tackett was discouraging post-game congratulatory actions due to safety concerns for the following sports — baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling. Tackett also put the onus on school officials and administrators to supervise the post-game activities or face a penalty, including fines.

Tackett attempted to expound upon his thought process.

“The KHSAA has a plethora of rules, regulations, policies, recommendations and other standards by which contests and eligibilty are determined,” Tackett said. “In an effort to create a different category, not a rule, not a policy, but more than a recommendation or suggestion, we chose to use the word directive, which has many meanings, one of which is to be a synonym for prescription — as in recommedation from authority. In the end, that decision was the beginning of a series of opportunites for misunderstanding and misinterpretation. In addition, two very closely related parts of the original statement were not pieced together: the directive, prescription, suggestion, and the opportunity to continue if supervised; and therefore many people who read the first part, but didn’t read the second, drew an erroneous conclusion.”

One difference between the two statments was the enforcement of penalities, issued by the KHSAA. The new release didn’t mention penalities or corrective actions that might be taken.

In the orignal statement, Tackett outlined his discipline strategy.

Post-game rituals are at the discretion of each individual school in the state of Kentucky. If a problem arises after the contest, the responsible individual and the representing school will face the consequences.

“The coaches and administration of the teams are always responsible for the individual conduct of the members of the team following the contest and shall be accountable of such,” Tackett said. “Henceforth, any incidents by an individual squad member, including coaches, or group of squad members that results in unsporting acts immediately following the contest will result in a penalty against the member school athletic program, and additional penalties against the individuals or schools are deemed appropriate following investigation.”

Tackett told the Louisville Courier-Journal that school officials and coaches who fail to observe the directive couble be fined up to $1,000.

After reading Tackett’s remarks, State Representative Steve Riggs (D-Louisville) announced Wednesday he will file legislation stripping the authority of the governing body to create fines of this nature.

“Promoting sportsmanship is a coach’s job and they should not have to be looking over their shoulder when they encourage young student athletes to be gracious winners and losers,” Riggs said in a written statement. “Not only do I believe the KHSAA was wrong in pushing this directive and threatening school officials and coaches with fines, I am not convinced they had the authority to do that in the first place…”

According to the KHSAA, there have been more than two dozen post-game incidents in the past three years in the state alone. Incidents in football, soccer and volleyball have occurred.

In a blog posted Tuesday written by Tackett, the problems arise with a lack of judgment and adult supervision.

“Unfortunately, the adrenaline and effort required to participate in the sport sometimes seems to deplete the supply of judgment available to participants,” Tackett said. “And this can be particularly problematic when there is a lack of an appropriate level of adult supervision, or counterproductive actions by the adults involved with the team.”

According to Tackett, game officials are not responsible for post-game activities.

“Officials have no role in what goes on in post-game, including handshakes, etc., after jurisdiction has ended,” Tackett said. “Officials also have no role in administering this policy. Officials choosing to involve themselves in post-game activities will be penalized appropriately.”

Nothing about the situation is etched in stone as far as post-game procedure. Each individual school will continue to have the option to participate in post-game regimens, Tackett said.

“It’s really simple,” Tackett said. “Sportsmanship and civility remain hallmark values. It is my hope that all schools can provide the proper supervision and accountability to continue these types of activities. But if they can’t, then stop doing them.”

Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or cslone@civitasmedia.com. For breaking sports news, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.