TSSA Policy 26

TSSA ~ Tennessee State Soccer Association

POLICY 26:  Tryout, Recruitment, Player Commitment, Release & Guest Playing & Disciplinary Action 

(Updated 5/14/22)


A. Tryouts – a defined period, typically after the spring Tennessee State Cup, approved by TSSA where travel/competitive players are selected for a club team based upon their ability.  Recreational players do not have tryouts, nor do they sign any Commitment Letters.  

B. Commitment Letter – is a contract between the club and player/guardians for a seasonal year defined by TSSA from August 1 to July 31 of that seasonal year.  The Commitment Letter should have specific listed items so that the player/guardians are aware of their commitment to the club and the club’s commitment to them. The Commitment Letter gives the club permission to register the player with the club.

C. Binding Date – is an agreed upon date by TSSA typically a week or two after tryouts where a signed Commitment Letter binds the player to the club.  If the player signs a Commitment Letter prior to the Binding Date and changes their mind, they may do so per TSSA policy but must make the club aware and TSSA of the desire to no longer be bound and change clubs.  If done after the binding date the player must undergo a player release.  


Tryouts for competitive teams are of critical importance for the youth players we serve and our member associations.  The process is designed to assist and support both constituent groups. Tennessee State Soccer Association (TSSA) is committed to a tryout process that is open and fair, that does not interfere with the focus of players participating in the State Cup, and that is structured so that all member associations offering competitive programs are competing on a level playing field.  

A.  Tryouts occurring prior to the dates approved and published by Tennessee State Soccer Association (“Early Tryouts”) will not be recognized by TSSA (i.e. a roster will not be issued for any team selected in such a tryout).

B.  All tryouts for TSSA competitive teams may not be conducted prior to the approved and published dates. Such tryouts must be open to all youth players who desire to attend and must be open to all players, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex or national origin.

C.  It is the desire of TSSA and its member clubs that Commitment Letters be as transparent and thorough as they possibly can to the participants.  Making the Commitment Letters thorough and specific will allow any future transfer conflicts to be properly examined and vetted by the proper committees.  If the Commitment Letter is not specific or vague in its content, it could result in a release/transfer without certain conditions being met.  Commitment letters will not be recognized until the Binding Date. The State Association sets the Binding Date every year. 

1. A Commitment Letter should include the following:

a. Birth year team the player is committing to,

b. Division level the team the player is committing to,

c. Definition of seasonal year (August 1, XXXX to July 31, XXXX), 

d. Release of liability

e. Specific financial obligation with the club,

f.  Statement of compliance with Club and State Code of Conduct

g. Acknowledgement that recruitment of committed players between the binding date   and next year’s tryouts is prohibited.

2. A club may list open terms for pool training but the agreement between player and club should be clear.  

3. TSSA acknowledges that Players/Teams may need to be moved during the season due to a lack of performance or improvement in performance.  These situations where movement is necessary should be documented, approved, and clearly communicated by the club leadership to the participant(s).  

4. If there is a situation of disagreement regarding the Commitment Letter, mediation with the Illegal Recruitment Review Committee can be done to evaluate the information and render a decision.  

5. Failure of any of the above conditions being met could allow player to be released free and clear.

D. For girls’ 15U age group teams and older, additional tryouts may be conducted following the conclusion of the individual players’ high school season through November 30th. 

E. New team formations comprised of players not previously registered and rostered to another team can occur at any time during the seasonal year.

F. A non-registered player may join a team at any time during the year. 

G. It is permissible for players from disbanded teams (regardless of the division) to roster with teams participating in the current season, pending approval from the TSSA State Administrator or his/her designee. A disbanded team is one that did not form due to an insufficient number of players present for the roster.  To accommodate these players a club may ask players if they desire to play up, but they should not be forced to do so.  This is a situation where a player may be released.  

H. Any association/team wishing to conduct tryouts may do so by advertising the tryouts at any point after the tryout dates have been approved and published by Tennessee State Soccer Association.


A. Prohibited Recruiting is defined as an effort to induce a registered player of any team, after the Binding Date, who has appropriately executed a Commitment Letter with a TSSA member association, to join a team with another TSSA member association during the current seasonal year, or the next seasonal year.

B. Recruiting is any action or statement, made by any “team representative,” as defined, either verbally or in writing that encourages or entices a player to break that commitment by registering with another association. A “team representative” may be coaches or anyone associated with or having an interest in an organization; including but not limited to Parents and Players.  

C. Players in age groups 13U and older, may be recruited during the posted tryout period. This is the open recruitment period. 

D. Players who  are  currently 12U (who will be 12U for  the  upcoming soccer year) and younger may NOT be recruited. There is no acceptable window of time where the recruitment of these players is allowed.

E. Associations can be held accountable where they have initiated, and/or (should have been reasonably) aware of unacceptable conduct, as it relates to recruiting which could result in a violation of the TSSA Recruiting Policy. Associations that allow, create, or foster a pervasive culture of noncompliance can be held to account when the totality of circumstantial evidence paints a picture representing any or all of the following: 

1. That the club knew or should have known about prohibited behavior; 

2. That the club encouraged or failed to prevent team representatives from acting in a prohibited manner; 

3. That the club was negligent in educating its team representatives regarding Policy 26.)  

F. Violations of the TSSA Recruiting Policy are not limited to those addressed above.

G. Sanctions for illegal recruiting can include but are not limited to probation, suspensions, loss of state cup competition, creating education pieces on recruiting and presenting to TSSA peers at the TSSA AGM, and possible fines for Member Associations found guilty of illegal recruiting. Additional sanctions could include creating education pieces on recruiting and presenting to TSSA peers at the TSSA AGM.

H. Coaches are considered to be independent contractors of the member associations and should be treated as such by member associations unless they are categorized as full-time employees.  Associations are strongly encouraged to maintain employee OR independent contractor agreements with all coaches.  

I. Coaches changing TSSA member clubs may not coach any player coached at the previous organization for a period of 1 TSSA year, unless the coach’s previous member club agrees in writing to waive the prohibition. If players and/or coaches leave USYS and/or TSSA after changing clubs, the 1-year prohibition must be served upon returning to USYS and/or TSSA.  


A. Player commitments shall be from the binding date of a properly executed commitment letter/binding letter through the end of the Spring State Cup the following year. This is a seasonal year or the commitment period.  If the team continues to play beyond the end of spring state cup (either by qualification or choice, the commitment is extended through those events, as is the commitment from the club to the player.) has made it to regional or national competitions, the commitment is extended through those events.

B. A player may drop from the team with whom they have appropriately executed a Commitment Letter anytime during the seasonal year. However, the player who wishes to be released from the association, must complete the online Player Release/Transfer Request.  This process will initiate notification to TSSA and Club of a desire to be released. There is a fee set by the Board of Directors that must be paid. The association cannot deny a player release if the player has met the financial obligations to that association.  A player release is not a forgiveness of financial responsibilities to that association, but the association may forgive the financial obligation. 

1. Guardians of a player initiate the Player Release Process through their online player account. Once it has been submitted and any required payment completed to TSSA, the Current Club is notified of the desire to be Released. The Registrar of the Current Club completes the Release Process within the system and the notification is sent to the State Office for Approval. That Registrar may choose to contest the Release if there is an outstanding financial obligation. Once the financial obligations are met or mediated, the player/guardians are notified and can begin the process of finding a new club. Upon receipt of the Player Release Request Form, the TSSA office will send an email to the player’s current team coach, Director of Coaching and association president confirming the authenticity of the signatures. Once all signatures are confirmed, the release will be approved by TSSA and the player notified.

2. A request for a player release will be reviewed within 10 working days of receipt of the request and the request fee. Until the player release has been finalized by TSSA, the player/parents are not allowed to contact a new club.

C. A player that has a change in residency more than 75 geographical miles is not required to complete a Player Release Request Form. However, the player must notify their current association/team of this change of residency prior to registering with another team. The release fee will be waived in this instance.

D. A Player whose team has participated in a US Youth Soccer National League, US Youth Soccer Regional Premier League, State Championship, or State League can be released. However, they are not permitted to play for a different Club team in the same competition during the same Seasonal Year. 


A. The following process is mandatory in order to have a player currently rostered to a team/association participate in any capacity with another team/association. Participation includes tournaments, scrimmages, league play, practices, trips, camps, or any other activity that the team is a participant.

1. The head coach desiring the participation of a player must direct a request in writing to the head coach or director of coaching of the team/association that the player is currently rostered.

2.The individual contacted must grant approval for such participation PRIOR to the player partaking in any event or activity. If approval is granted, the player card/pass for the player must be provided to the guest team for the activity requested only.

3.If the player’s current coach or director of coaching does not grant approval for the player to participate in the event or activity, then that player is not permitted to participate.

B. Non-compliance with the guest playing provision by a coach shall be deemed both unethical and a violation of the recruitment provision.

C. A player that participates in any event or activity as a guest player without the permission of their current coach or director of coaching shall be subject to disciplinary action.


A. Suspected, perceived, or admitted potential violations of Policy 26 should be immediately reported to the Chief Operating Officer in writing or email.  

B. Coaches, Managers, Directors of Coaching, Parents, Guardians, Players, or any other “team representatives” AND Member Associations are subject to a disciplinary hearing for alleged violations of the provisions of TSSA Policy 26.

C. If a Team Representative, Coach, Manager, Director of Coaching, Parent, Guardian, Player, or Member Association; or other party acting on behalf of the team, is found guilty of illegal recruiting, the sanctions may include, but are not limited to the following:




4.Tournament play restrictions;

5.Loss of state cup competition;

6.Team advancement restrictions;

7.Coach dismissal


VIII. Illegal Recruitment Review Committee

A. The Illegal Recruitment Review Committee is an extension of the TSSA Discipline and Appeals Committee.  This is a group of no more than 5 and no fewer than 3.  The committee is made of club leaders from the various select clubs and they serve to help mediate situations regarding recruitment.  Members of this Committee are selected per the rules outlined in TSSA Bylaw III.

B. The committee will review the potential violations and; document all claims for future use in establishing whether a club allowed, created, or fostered a culture of non-compliance; and  

     Submit a recommendation of investigation to the TSSA Disciplinary Committee; or

inform the accusing party that the committee will not give its recommendation to the TSSA Disciplinary Committee; and inform the party of its right to submit the claim to the TSSA Disciplinary Committee without the Policy 26 / Illegal Recruiting Review Committee’s recommendation.

C. All sanctions are to be considered and final decisions will be determined by the TSSA Disciplinary Committee as defined in Bylaw 3. Section B.

D. The decisions of the Illegal Recruitment Review Committee are not final and serve as a level of mediation.  Any participant may appeal the decisions per TSSA Bylaws to the Discipline and Appeals Committee and then to the Appeals Committee prior to a final appeal to the United States Soccer Federation.