Two girls' high school basketball teams have been sidelined after a scandal on the court. Tennessee referees said both squads were playing to lose during Saturday's game, and now they will miss the state tournament as punishment, reports CBS News correspondent Don Dahler.
The Smyrna and Riverdale High School teams already had a place in the state's district playoffs, but because the winner was scheduled to face a powerhouse team in the next round of regional play, both teams, in a feat described as "bracket-ology," saw only one option -- to lose on purpose.
The game, in which Smyrna eventually won 55-29, was filled with aimless dribbles, missed baskets and obvious slow play. With a score of just 28-24 in the third quarter -- just before a player was about to attempt a shot into the wrong basket -- the referees called the coaches to the sidelines.
"We started getting emails and calls saying that no one was trying to win the game, actually, two teams were trying to lose the game," Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) executive director Bernard Childress said.
He launched an investigation into the foul play.
The day after the game, principals from both schools met with the TSSAA and asked that the teams be able to continue in the postseason, and to only remove the coaches.
"The administrators did take responsibility for it, and they were very apologetic about what went on," Childress said.
The athletic association found that, while the coaches may not have explicitly told the teams to lose, they did clearly explain the advantages of not winning.
"I feel bad for the girls, who were put in that position, and will obviously lose something, but you never know what lessons can be taught from this," spectator Mike Roller said.
In separate letters to the schools, the association said the teams made a "mockery of the game," and included notes from a referee who thought Riverdale's players intentionally missed between 12 and 16 free throws.
"We determined that this was totally out of the spirit of fair play, and not the message we want to send, and they did make a travesty of the game," Childress said.
Both teams have been placed on restrictive probation for the remainder of the season and both schools were fined $1,500.
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