Stokes's Southwind eligibility still possible

Jarnell Stokes

Jarnell Stokes's playing eligibility at Southwind is no longer contingent upon a bona fide change of residency, TSSAA executive director told TigerAuthority.com Friday, citing newly-received information.

Jarnell Stokes's playing eligibility at Southwind is no longer contingent upon a bona fide change of residency, TSSAA executive director told TigerAuthority.com Friday, citing newly-received information.

"One thing we weren't aware of that we've found out recently is that there was a commission being paid to Memphis City Schools in order for him to go to Central High School because he's in the (Shelby County) district," Childress said.

Childress said Stokes's family paid around $300 a semester for Stokes to attend Central and it is his understanding, from speaking with Shelby County school board spokesman Mike Tebbe, that Stokes will file for a financial hardship in order to gain eligibility at Southwind.

Stokes did not respond to phone calls or text messages.

"We don't just accept a letter from parents stating it was financial," Childress said. "If you have been paying the tuition (elsewhere), substantiate in documentation what has changed financially."

"My question is, has there been a job loss? Has there been a reduction in one parent's salary? If they say yes, it has to be documented. We request they submit the separation notice from their employer when the parent was laid off so we can verify the claim if it is loss of finances."

Stokes announced this summer he would transfer from Central and spend his senior year at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va. After those plans fell through, also due to cost-related issues, Stokes made it clear he did not want to return to Central and opted to enroll at Southwind.

Earlier this week, Childress told the Memphis Commercial Appeal that Stokes and his family didn't even need to attempt to seek consideration for a hardship waiver.

Today, however, Childress's tone had changed drastically.

"If it's a true hardship, we will grant it," Childress said. "If it doesn't meet it, we will deny it. They understand it."

Stokes must be enrolled at Southwind for three days before a formal request for the waiver can be submitted.

In order for a transfer student with an athletic record to be eligible at another school, TSSAA rules state, there must be a bona fide change of residence by the athlete's parents.

"Two days ago, he would've been denied because of the transfer rule. Now, with my knowledge of the tuition, it's a possibility," Childress said. "My inclination is that the direction they'll go. They're asking, ‘Would you waive the transfer rule because there has been a significant change in income?' If it indeed is income-related, send in the documentation."

Stokes is rated the No. 18 prospect in the country by Scout. He lists Memphis, Arkansas, Tennessee, Connecticut, and Florida.

"One thing I will say, his situation will be treated like every other's," Childress said. "If hardship is applied, he will get every opportunity to gain eligibility. But we're going to go by the rule and we'll apply it."

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