The Tennessee House of Representatives approved a measure Monday night that requires public schools to open athletic teams to homeschooled students living inside their districts.
Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association guidelines currently allow schools to decide whether or not to allow homeschooled athletes to participate on teams.
Having been passed by both the House and Senate, the measure is now awaiting the signature of Gov. Bill Haslam to become a law.
"Until all that goes through it's not effective yet," Lenoir City High School Athletic Director Greg Boling said. "Do I think he's going to sign it into law? Yeah. We'll just have to see how it goes."
How much impact the new law would have on county schools is yet to be seen, but Loudon County Director of Schools Jason Vance doesn't expect there to be much of one.
"We have adopted a policy in Loudon County Schools that says we're going to allow those kids to participate if they meet those guidelines," Vance said. "In essence, I think that the state's just now catching up to some of the counties that have elected to go ahead and do that.
"If they meet the same rules and regulations our kids do, I don't have a problem with it," he said. "I think it's an interesting concept and am open to see how that moves forward from here."
While Boling agrees that the impact may not be as extreme for Lenoir City Schools as those in Knoxville or other more heavily populated areas, he does have some concerns.
"One of the questions I have, is where does it stop? Does it stop just with athletics?" he said. "What if a student wants to be in the chorus program? Do we have to let them in there? What if a student did not perform well in math? If they didn't know how to do calculus that well do they come to school and take just that one class? To me, it opens up a lot. We'll just have to see where this takes us."
Vance said he has also heard concerns about roster spots being taken from kids at the public schools, but doesn't see it as a true issue.
"I've had people from other districts share with me they were concerned homeschool kids were going to come in and take all the spots of the local kids," Vance said. "I really don't think that's an issue here in Loudon County. I don't think we'll have that many homeschool kids that would want to come participate anyway, and even if they did, they've still got to earn a spot on the team."
Vance said guidelines for homeschooled students interested in participating are "fairly rigid," especially with an application timeline that is early in the school year for even spring sports.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Roger Kane, R-Knoxville, and Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.