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TSSAA adopts COVID-19 regulations, fall sports plans

From STAFF REPORTS

Tennessee now has a road map for both high school football and girls soccer in the fall.

Convening at its board meeting on Wednesday, July 22, in Murfreesboro, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association approved measures to outline the potential for a nearly complete football and girls soccer season.

The league also unanimously adopted its COVID-19 guidelines and procedures required of all member institutions who wish to compete in all athletics in the 2020-21 calendar school year.

A full copy of the regulations and fall sports rules modifications can be found on the TSSAA website.

“The regulations and guidelines the Board passed today go into effect immediately for all sports,” TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said. “We’re hopeful that the prohibition on contact sports will be lifted before Aug. 29, but if it’s not, the Board of Control has put some policies in place to help keep our kids and communities safe and lay out a road map to the start of our football and girls soccer seasons.”

For football’s “Option 2 Hybrid” plan, the state preserves the potential for an 10-game regular season and full playoff format, but also lays the groundwork for what could become an eight-game season with a reduced playoff field for Division I.

Under that plan, region games originally scheduled for Week 1 of the prep football season will be moved to later, common dates that TSSAA already has modeled. As each week passes where no contact is allowed, the next week’s region games are rescheduled.

Now, with a vote on the Option 2 Hybrid, there is a potential start date in place and a plan for the season to begin as early as Aug. 21 or as late as Sept. 18.

The board also tackled how to handle a COVID-19 breakout as it pertains to competition in both the regular and postseason. A regular-season game becomes a win for seeding purposes if the opposing team can’t play due to COVID-19, but the team struck with illness would receive neither a win nor a loss. If both teams confront outbreaks of the virus, it is considered a “no-contest.”

Additionally, for all sports and not merely the upcoming fall divisions of cross country, golf, volleyball, football and girls’ soccer, the TSSAA and its board voted unanimously to allow students whose school systems are beginning with remote instruction to still be allowed as full participants in all sports.

To see the complete sports regulations, rules modifications and contingency plans on the Tennessee Returns To Play page, go to TSSAA.org.