It's been more than a decade since the Albert Means scandal sent Alabama reeling and brought several penalties down on Memphis Trezevant high school. Means was a superstar defensive lineman for Trezevant who signed a scholarship to continue his career with Alabama. In addition to his scholarship, Means also received $200,000 in cash from 'Bama boosters in the Memphis area, with long-time Tide supporter Logan Young being the central figure. Heck, even the FBI got involved in the scandal as they discovered other Memphis athletes were being shopped around to other schools. Obviously Trezevant supporters never learned their lesson.
Just this week, Ronnie Macklin resigned his position as principal at Trezevant High School after discovering a "grading" scandal at the school.
In other words grades were changed regularly at the school to keep athletes eligible. He reported this to authorities in the Shelby County School District, but no action was ever taken. After receiving death threats and having his car vandalized, Macklin who had been at Trezevant for just one year, resigned. In August a few weeks after taking the job, Macklin discovered discrepancies in students' transcripts that didn't match their actual grades. After reporting this to the school district, an investigation was launched.
"There have been multiple incidents where I have uncovered illegal and unethical wrongdoings and was told not to comment on it, " Macklin said in his six-page resignation letter to the board.
Macklin also said the situation at the school was "dire" but also said Trezevant wasn't the only school in the district with similar problems. Like Brainerd High School in Chattanooga, Trezevant is part of the Innovation-Zone program in Memphis.
The Bluff City has long been a hotbed for great high school athletes, but to recruit one from that area has almost always involved dealing with "sports agents" who stand with their hands out wanting money or other favors from college programs. It didn't stop with Albert Means in the early 2000's - no one else has been caught. Now it appears another way of cheating has been discovered and it could also involve authorities within the Shelby County School District. One of them actually told Ronnie Macklin, this needed to "go away."
Just as it was with Albert Means, this is no isolated incident. No one ever thought that the Memphis area had cleaned up its act more than 10 years ago, and now it appears it's gotten worse. Reportedly, Trezevant has already vacated the state football championship it won last fall. That's a start, but there is still much to be done. I would imagine the TSSAA will soon step in and begin their own investigation into Macklin's accusations.
To discover cheating at this level in one of our state's school districts is very unfortunate. Memphis is very likely not the only district in Tennessee where grades have been changed to assist athletes in their college recruitment. But it's Memphis.....and to make this discovery certainly surprises nobody in other parts of the state.
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Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for 30 years. He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga television for more than a quarter-century. In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith. They have five grandchildren, Coleman, Boone, Mattingly, DellaMae, and CoraLee.