The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association delayed making a decision on contingency plans for the upcoming football and girls soccer season during a meeting Wednesday.
The TSSAA’s Board of Control was originally scheduled to discuss and vote on plans for both sports as COVID-19 restrictions across the state have been extended to Aug. 29.
However, TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said that the organization has been working with the governor’s office and that it would be best to wait before coming to a decision.
“We’re working with the governor’s legal counsel. Based on our conversations that we’re having, we think right now that it is best to delay any votes on a contingency plan,” Childress said. “They needed time to look, to watch the data and to work with our staff.”
There were originally four contingency plans for football that the Board of Control was scheduled to vote on. All of the options would have involved delaying the season from its original Aug. 21 start date.
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.
The girls soccer season was originally scheduled to begin on Aug. 17 with July 27 set as the date where teams can begin practicing.
During a meeting of the Board of Control on July 1, 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.
While COVID-19 restrictions remain in effect through Aug. 29, football and girls soccer teams can’t conduct full practices with actions being limited to weightlifting and conditioning without direct contact.
No date was set for a future vote on these contingency plans.
Childress said that the best thing for concerned parents, fans, athletes and coaches to do would be to take proper precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“You need to help us out. People need to wear masks, they need to social distance and wash their hands. We need to get our numbers down,” he said. “The return on that investment would be that we do get to have fall sports, hopefully on time this year.”
Cross country, golf and volleyball are not affected by the executive orders. Childress said on July 1 that those three sports are able to proceed with their seasons as scheduled.
Golf teams can start practicing on Monday 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.