The member schools of Hamilton County put forth a proposal at the 1954 Regional Meetings that the Board of Control appoint a committee to draw up plans for classifying member schools for athletic purposes according to enrollment. Member schools voted to proceed and the Board of Control appointed the committee.
S. Dean Petersen, Principal of Red Bank High School, was named chairman of a committee appointed by the Board of Control to study and draw up a plan for classifying TSSAA schools for athletic purposes according to enrollment. Other members of this committee were Coach Boyce Smith of Springfield; C. D. Parr, Principal of Hornbeak High School; and the Executive Secretary A. F. Bridges.
A plan was created to classify the football schools of the state according to enrollment so that member schools could play to a state championship in four classes. At the December 1957 Regional Meetings member schools rejected the plan by majority vote in each of the three grand divisions.
It wasn't until 1967, more than a dozen years later, that the issue would again be raised. The Board of Control again appointed a committee in January of 1968 to study the possibility of establishing a state championship playoff in football. A Board of Control member and a high school coach and principal from each of the state's three grand divisions were recommended to serve on the committee.
At the Regional Meetings of 1968, the membership considered two major proposals. One, a football championship playoff plan calling for splitting schools into three classes by enrollment, the other a basketball proposal which called for three or four state tournaments depending upon the number of classifications. The basketball proposal also provided that, after the state classified tournament had been held, there would be a second tournament in which the finalists in each of the state classified tournaments would participate.
The football proposal passed by a wide margin, the basketball proposal was preferred by only the East Tennessee members. The Board of Control put into place the football classification and playoff plan at its next scheduled meeting.
The first TSSAA football playoff games were played on November 21 and 28, 1969. The approved format called for schools to be divided into three classifications by enrollment with each classification having a four-team playoff.
A revised plan for basketball would eventually make its way back to a vote at the Regional Meetings of 1971, where support for a two-class basketball system was affirmed by the membership. The Board of Control approved the plan at its next scheduled meeting and it went into effect for the 1972-73 season.
Basketball expanded to three classes beginning with the 1975-76 season. Football expanded to five classes in 1993.