Shocking players and coaches across the state, the TSSAA Board of Control announced that it would be holding off on voting for contingency plans for football season during its meeting on Wednesday.
The tabled vote comes after the TSSAA has been in discussions with Governor Bill Lee’s Legal Council.
“We are working with the Governor’s Legal Council and based on our conversations that we are having, we think that right now, it is best to delay any vote on a contingency plan,” TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said during Wednesday’s meeting.
On June. 29, Lee extended Tennessee’s COVID-19 State of Emergency until Aug. 29. That measure included limitations and restrictions on contact sporting events and activities. Volleyball, cross-country and golf seasons are still expected to start as originally scheduled.
During a July 1 meeting, Mark Reeves, TSSAA Assistant Executive Director noted that the organization has asked the Governor’s Task Force for an exemption. That would put high schools in the same category with in-state college and professional teams.
If the TSSAA is included in that order, sports would be exempt from the executive order, which would allow things to be played as originally scheduled. During Wednesday’s meeting, Childress stated that the TSSAA Board of Control would not vote on a decision until the Governor’s Legal Council rendered a decision.
For soccer players, the TSSAA is exploring postponing the state championships to allow additional weeks for the regular season. Practices would be allowed to begin on Aug. 30, with potential to extend the originally scheduled season.
The majority of that July 1 TSSAA meeting was solely focused on unveiling the options for football season moving forward. In the current state emergency, full-contact practices will not be able to begin until Aug. 30, with regular season games expected to start on Sept. 18.
In the TSSAA presented its contingency plan, the TSSAA Board of Control presented their contingency plans. The board members voted unanimously to mandate that member schools follow the Governor’s executive order for sports activities.
The first option considered includes a seven-game regular-season schedule for each with the normal 32-team playoff bracket for teams in Division I. In that proposed scenario, the playoffs would start as scheduled and the TSSAA would be in charge of setting each team’s schedule.
“We would schedule the region games and let them [the teams] fill in from there,” Childress said in a media press conference on Wednesday.
The teams who do not make the playoffs will be allowed to play two additional games, making for a total of a nine-game season.
The second proposed option includes an eight-game regular-season schedule, which would feature a 16-team playoff bracket in Division I. In that scenario, only the region champion and runner-up would make it into the playoff. The TSSAA would once again set the schedule for each team and squads who did not make the playoffs would be able to schedule two additional contests.
The third option allows high schools to compete in a nine-game season. In this case, only region champions advance to the playoffs, making for an eight-team playoff bracket.
Childress also presented a fourth option, however, he pointed out that the support for this consideration was lacking. The final option, included a regular 10-game season beginning on Sept. 18. In that scenario, there would be no playoffs and the teams would conclude the year after their tenth game.