CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - All they want is a fighting chance.
For the last three years, a committee of Charleston County School District coaches and athletics directors have been working to add middle school sports to the fold.
"We feel like it's critical," said Wando Athletics Director Bob Hayes.
"We are at a disadvantage to probably 90 percent of the school districts in this state."
In the Tri-County area, the concept already exists in Dorchester District 2, which includes schools like Alston, Dubose, and Oakbrook Middle.
District Spokeswoman Pat Raynor said the teams each receive district funds, but are also supported by concessions and gate fees.
West Ashley head football coach Bobby Marion is one of many coaches ready to "level the playing field."
"It sort of puts us a little bit behind," he said.
"We don't get access to our athletes until they are in the 9th grade."
To date, several middle schools throughout the county have a sports team, but none are controlled by the district.
CCSD Director of Athletics David Spurlock said Wednesday, many of those teams are funded and staffed by the city recreation department.
Under the proposal, district teams would be open to 7th and 8th grade students.
"We have the program in place, we're ready to go with it," he said. "It is now going to be a funding issue."
CCSD Chief Finance and Operations officer Michael Bobby, wasn't ready to put a price tag on the proposal Wednesday morning.
"The actual cost is going to be dependent upon how wide the program goes and what sports we're going to cover," he said.
According to District Athletics Director, David Spurlock, the plan would start four sports: football, volleyball, wrestling, and soccer, phasing in more teams over a four-year period.
Spurlock also proposed dividing the funding over that period.
"There's no doubt there's going to be an additional cost to our operating fund," Bobby added.
The plan will seek funding within the next budget season, which could run into June 2015.
"In the long run, you have kids that are going to be held accountable for their actions, whether those are behaviors, or whether those are academic behaviors," Spurlock said.
"We want to do that as soon as we possibly can."