The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association is considering multiple options for adjustments to the fall sports season after an extension of Tennessee’s state of emergency by Gov. Bill Lee.
Lee signed three executive orders on Monday which extend coronavirus restrictions in the state through Aug. 29. The restrictions laid out in the executive orders include limits on the operations of football and girls soccer programs across the state.
Under the current executive orders, football and girls soccer teams would be unable to hold any official contests or scrimmages and would be unable to have close-contact activities during practices until at least Aug. 29. The NCAA and professional sports organizations are exempt from the restrictions.
TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress confirmed in a press release on Tuesday that the seasons for football and girls soccer, originally scheduled to start in mid-August, would both have to be pushed back.
The football season was originally scheduled to begin on Aug. 21.
During a meeting of the TSSAA’s Board of Control Wednesday, Childress introduced four potential options for how the football season could be played with a delayed start.
The first option would have full practices starting on Aug. 30 with the season starting on Sept. 18. Teams would play a seven-game schedule with the playoffs starting on time with 32 teams.
In that option, the TSSAA would clear the schedules for each team and set regional schedules to account for the more limited time frame. Any teams that didn’t make the playoffs in this proposal could schedule an additional two games for a nine-game season.
The second proposal would have the same starting dates of Aug. 30 for full practices and Sept. 18 for the regular season. The season would run for eight games with the top two teams in each region advancing to the playoffs.
Like the first proposal, teams that are left out of the postseason would be able to schedule an additional two games.
The third proposal kept to the dates of Aug. 30 for full practices and Sept. 18 for the first day of games with each team playing a nine-game season. In this scenario, only the regional champions would advance to the playoffs for an eight-team bracket in each classification.
The final proposal offered was also the most drastic with the main feature being the elimination of the postseason altogether. The option, if carried out, would guarantee each team five games and would allow them to go out and schedule up to five more games to round out their seasons.
No official decision was made on Wednesday. The board will reconvene on July 8 after considering the options with hopes of having a plan in place by the end of July.
In the meantime, football programs across the state can resume weightlifting and conditioning drills when the TSSAA dead period ends on July 6, but they must be careful to avoid contact.
The girls soccer season was originally scheduled to begin on Aug. 17 with July 27 set as the date where teams can begin practicing.
Childress recommended that the soccer season be extended by a few weeks with the state championships delayed to allow a full season to be played.
A decision on the girls soccer season will also be discussed at the July 8 meeting of the Board of Control.
Cross country, golf and volleyball are not affected by the executive orders. Childress said that those three sports are able to proceed with their seasons as scheduled.
Golf teams can start practicing on July 13 with matches starting on July 27. Cross country and volleyball can start holding practices on July 27 with the seasons for both sports beginning on Aug. 17.