TSSAA Awards Dobyns Bennett Covid Win Over McMinn Co

The TSSAA has officially called off the second round playoff game between McMinn Co and Dobyns Bennett, and they have advanced Dobyns Bennett to the quarterfinal round against Maryville. McMminn county traveled to Dobyns Bennett Friday, but the game was postponed over concerns that a McMinn County player had tested positive for COVID.

In a letter from the TSSAA Monday, they requested more info from the McMinn Co health department and high school about the player, but when they didn’t get a response by a Monday deadline, the TSSAA called off the game and advanced Dobyns Bennett.

Here is the letter from the TSSAA to the principals at both schools informing them of their decision.


The football game between your schools that was scheduled to be played on Friday

November 13, 2020, was not played due to concerns that a McMinn County player who

was allegedly traveling with the team had tested positive for COVID-19. Based on the

judgment of Dr. Andrew Stephen May of the Sullivan County Health Department and Dr.

Tim Jones, the Chief Medical Officer for the Tennessee Department of Health, the game

was called off

Over the weekend, additional information that was not known to Dr. May and Dr. Jones

at the time was brought to the attention of TSSAA by representatives of McMinn County

High School. The student-athlete in question was taking virtual classes only and was only

at the school in the afternoons for football practice. According to the McMinn County

football coach, this player was ill at practice on Tuesday November 10 and was sent

home and had not been around any other McMinn County players since that time. The

student underwent testing for COVID-19 at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday November 12 and was

informed that he had a positive result. However, he suffers from asthma, and on the

morning of November 13 he was examined by his physician. His physician found that he

had no stigmata consistent with COVID-19 and that his O2 saturation was 98 with no

fever. His COVID antibody test was negative for IgG. On this basis, the physician

concluded that the student’s positive COVID test result on November 12 might be a false


The McMinn County High School Football COVID-19 Protocols limit the number of

players in the weight room at a given time. At practice, players are not allowed in groups

and are not to be around anyone for more than 30 seconds. No huddles are used, and

drills and activities are conducted in a way to maintain social distancing. The player in

question says that during the week’s practices he was never within six feet of anyone for

fifteen minutes or more.

While the McMinn County team traveled to the November 13 game by bus, the player in

question traveled separately in a car with his parents. When the team stopped for a team

meal, the player and his parents ate in a separate part of the restaurant away from the

team. During that team meal the Coordinated School Health Supervisor informed the

player that he would not be permitted to participate in the game.

The TSSAA COVID-19 Sports Regulations require that “[a]ny student or staff who has

been in close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer) of a person with suspected

or confirmed COVID-19 must quarantine at home for a period of 14 days from their last

exposure to that individual.” The McMinn County High School Reported Case Protocol

requires contact tracing for any individual either 48 hours prior to symptom onset if

symptomatic or 48 hours prior to test date if asymptomatic.

Based on all of this information, TSSAA has attempted to find a way that the game

between the two schools could be played on Tuesday November 17. After consultation

with state health officials, we asked that McMinn County High School provide

verification from the McMinn County Health Department attesting that the school has

adequately performed the necessary contact tracing and ensured that any player other

than the student in question with whom he had close contact in the 48 hours before he

reported to practice ill on November 10 is quarantined and will not be participating in a

game if played on November 17. We informed school officials that we had to receive that

verification on November 16 in order for the contest to go forward on November 17.

Unfortunately, we did not receive the needed verification from the McMinn County

Health Department. We therefore have no alternative but to call off the game and

advance Dobyns-Bennett High School in the playoffs. We have all known that in the time

of this pandemic, something like this could occur; but we are sorry the players from the

two schools will not get to play this contest. We appreciate all the efforts that

representatives from both schools made to get us all the information we needed or

requested and to deal with this difficult situation.

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