TSSAA proposes plans for high school football and girls soccer season

A day after announcing that football and girls soccer would not be able to start on time, the TSSAA met Wednesday to discuss proposals for the upcoming school year.

During their Board of Control meeting, the TSSAA proposed three options for the high school football season and one option for girls soccer. No decision was officially made. The goal is to announce an official decision on July 8.

Not considered high risk sports by the TSSAA, cross country, volleyball and golf are still scheduled to start on time, barring any setbacks.

For football, all three options have the season starting on September 18 after three weeks of practice beginning on August 30. Also, in all three options, teams who do not make the playoffs could schedule two extra games during the playoff weeks.

Option one would have a 32-team bracket for the playoffs. It would be a seven-game regular season so that the playoffs could start on time and still have four rounds. The TSSAA would set the schedules for every school.

Option two would see a 16-team bracket for the playoffs and an eight-game regular season scheduled. Region champions and runner-up’s would be the only teams to make the playoffs. Similar to option one, the TSSAA would have to make the schedules for each team.

Option three would consist of a nine-game regular season schedule and just an eight-team playoff bracket where only region champions would qualify. Teams would be able to keep their regular schedule. The season would begin at the school’s week five games and then play week three and week four games. The TSSAA would reschedule region games in the first two weeks.

“We can’t do what NCAA and pro teams are doing in terms of testing,” TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said. “Financially, our schools can’t afford that. It’s $100 per test. But, competition and other things, we feel we can do it just as good as they can.”

Childress added that the TSSAA doesn’t want to complicate the issue and to stay focused on contingency plan with the governor’s order in effect.

“Let’s leave this meeting thinking one of these options we have to approve,” Childress said.

As for girls soccer, Childress proposed one plan to the board. This plan would have the girls soccer season extended and have the state tournament later than planned. With this proposal, schools would be able to reschedule games they missed at the start of the season.

“This way each school would still be able to get in a full season,” Childress said.

The TSSAA approved a motion to send out the options to its schools for them to review.

Childress said that a decision will have to be made and put in the guidelines on whether or not teams would have to forfeit games if they can’t play because of COVID-19.

The changes in the schedule comes following Gov. Bill Lee’s extension of the COVID-19 State of Emergency until August 29 that prohibits the play of close contact high school sports.

While the Governor’s order is in place, member schools cannot have any competition or scrimmage with other schools and cannot have close contact activities during their fundamental practice in the sports of football, 7-on-7 football, girls soccer, wrestling and basketball.

“Football and girls’ soccer will only be able to have conditioning and weightlifting only once the dead period ends,” Childress said. “There can be no contact.”

Each option that was presented at the meeting will be available to the public at tssaa.org.