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TSSAA to meet Wednesday to discuss plans for fall sports

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The TSSAA Board of Control will meet Wednesday afternoon in Murfreesboro and will address the proposed contingency plans for football and girls soccer.

The meeting was originally scheduled to discuss the next classification cycle, but the full agenda, which was released this week, also included a late addition to determine how the TSSAA will move forward in the two contact sports this fall.

The original girls soccer contingency plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the season back about two weeks to accommodate a later start date due to Gov. Bill Lee’s statewide emergency order extension. The board discussed the plan at the beginning of this month, but did not vote on accepting it.

The contingency includes extending the regular season two weeks and holding the state soccer championships for girls on Nov. 11-14.

On the football side, several options were introduced in the board’s virtual meeting on July 1. The breakdown for those begins with practices being allowed on Aug. 30 and first games on Sept. 18.

• Option 1 – a 7-game regular season with 32-team playoff brackets. The playoffs would start as scheduled and the TSSAA would set the region schedules. Also, teams that don’t make the playoffs would be allowed to play two more games for a total of nine.

• Option 2 – 8-game season with 16-team playoff bracket. Only the region champion and runner-up would make the playoffs in this scenario. The first week of the playoffs would be the final week of the regular season and the TSSAA would again set the region schedule.

• Option 3 – 9-game season with 8-team playoff bracket. Only the region champion would make the playoffs. The first two weeks of playoffs would be the final two regular season games and the schools keep their current schedule beginning with Week 5 (Sept. 18). Teams would go back to play Week 3 games on Nov. 6 and Week 4 games on Nov. 13.

A fourth option was to start the season on Sept. 18 and pickup the earlier scheduled games later and not have state championships.

Coaches, parents and players have been weighing in on social media for weeks about the high school seasons. Practice for both sports cannot include any physical contact currently as schools have been limited to mainly strength and conditioning in small groups. Earlier this month, the TSSAA said volleyball, cross country and golf seasons can move forward according to the original calendar. 

Local football and girls soccer coaches, like many from around the state, have been hoping for more guidance in terms of what to expect next month with scheduled practices set to begin on Aug. 3. Under the current emergency order from Gov. Lee, contact sports like football and girls soccer won’t be allowed to even start until Aug. 30.

The TSSAA last said they are working directly with the governor’s legal counsel to determine the best way forward in terms of high school athletics.

Some other surrounding states have already made commitments to the fall season in the midst of pandemic with Georgia most recently announcing it will push back its start of football to Sept. 4 – a two-week delay. Florida and Alabama voted to move forward without a change this week.

The board will also discuss how to handle schools with delayed openings or online-only classes due to the coronavirus as well as dealing with teams unable to play due to outbreaks.

The meeting is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start Wednesday at Siegel High School. There will be limited seating in the school’s lecture hall available, but the meeting will also be broadcast live on Youtube.

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