TSSAA delays decison on fall sports

The TSSAA Board of Control announced on Wednesday that it has delayed any vote on a contingency plan for high school football and girls soccer this fall.

The decision comes after discussions with Gov. Bill Lee’s legal counsel and Economic Recovery Task Force.

“Based on our conversations, we think it’s best to delay any vote on a contingency plan,” TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said. “There will come a time when we have to make a vote on a contingency plan. But we need time for our legal team.”

Childress said that they will continue to work with the legal counsel so it can look at more pandemic-related data.

Childress encouraged those listening to the meeting to continue to follow the guidelines set forth by Lee.

“If there’s a chance to play fall sports, I know a lot of people are listening, you need to help us out,” Childress said. “Wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands so that we can get our numbers down.”

Childress added that numbers need to go down if fall prep sports have any chance of being played.

No date was given as to when the official vote on a contingency plan would take place. The meeting was adjourned on Wednesday after five minutes of public discussion following several minutes of executive session.

The decision comes one week after the TSSAA proposed three options for high school football to the Board of Control. 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.

“I think it is possibly a good sign the TSSAA is in talks with Gov. Lee’s team about allowing us to play,” Morristown East football coach Caleb Slover said. “I just wish they would have gone ahead and voted on a backup plan to have in place. There also was no timeline given on when a decision would be made, and I think most coaches just want some sense of direction on what we need to start preparing for.

“It is much easier to say forget the backup plan, we are moving forward than to wait and make coaches find out which and how many games they have to find or go make a new non-conference schedule.”

While Lee’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.

“It is frustrating for everyone involved,” Grainger football coach and athletic director Chad Tate said. “It is uncharted territory, and I know the first priority is safety. I know everyone wants to play football and fall sports. Right now, all we can do is control what we can control and stay positive and optimistic for the season.”