Where the start of high school sports stands in all 50 states amid pandemic

Mitch Stephens | MaxPreps.com Wednesday, October 14, 2020 12:00pm

Alaska cancels all state fall championships; Minnesota flips football and volleyball back to the fall; Michigan, Delaware also reverse fields.

In light of the ongoing pandemic, state high school sports organizations continue to monitor and update plans for the 2020-21 academic/athletic year.

After most states canceled basketball championships and spring seasons in March, state governing bodies have wrestled what to do with the fall season in particularly. At one point, close to 20 states had moved all or most of fall sports to 2021, but at least four, under further evaluation, moved it back to a more traditional autumn season. At least two states are offering football season in either the fall or spring.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL KICKOFFS: Updates from all 50 states

The National Federation of State High School Associations offered a 16-page guide to help states with the possible re-opening of athletics.

See below for updated information on all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Alabama — The Alabama High School Athletic Association's Central Board of Control announced July 22 of its plans to follow specific guidelines and begin football with games starting on Aug. 20-21. Football practices in Alabama are scheduled to start July 27 in short and helmets. Schools that do not want to begin on July 27 may start fall practice on Aug. 3.

Alaska —  The Alaska School Activities Association announced Oct. 14 the cancellation of all 2020 fall state championship events due to COVID-19. According to an ASAA release, the decision was based upon: 1. Consultation with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Anchorage Health Department; 2. The current status of COVID-19 case counts and the projections of the case counts increasing in Anchorage and other parts of the state; 3. The impact of travel during the holiday season both into and out of Alaska. The football championships were scheduled to start to finish up on Oct. 30, the first of any of the 35 states that are playing the sport in the fall. Regions in Alaska are allowed to complete their regional championships if they are to do so prior to Nov. 22.  The sports affected are football, swimming and diving, gymnastics, rifle and volleyball. The ASAA board of directors are scheduled to meet again on Nov. 9.

Arizona — On Sept. 2, the Executive Board of the Arizona Interscholastic Association updated its latest guidelines and announced it will continue as schedule with its fall plan that includes football practice to begin Sept. 7, its first games on Sept. 30 and championship games to Dec. 11-12. Golf has already started competition, as have practices for all other fall sports.

Arkansas — On July 7, the Arkansas Activities Association released a statement that is prepared to start up the fall season as planned "in accordance with regular AAA calendar." Those plans are "contingent upon compliance with all directives as issued by the Governor's office and Department of Health."

California — The California Interscholastic Federation moved back its fall and winter seasons to start in January. In an announcement on July 20, "The CIF has determined, in collaboration with our 10 Sections, that education-based athletics for the 2020-2021 season will begin with a modified season of sport schedule." The CIF split all its sports into two "seasons," instead of three, with varying start and playoff dates. Part of the Northern Section had planned to split from the CIF's schedule for at least one year, but after the state Department of Health released updated youth sports guidelines on Aug. 3, it plans now to align with the rest of the state.

Colorado — As The Colorado High School Activities Association voted 12-3 on Sept. 16 to approve a plan from the Governor's COVID Response Team to allow football, field hockey and spirit squads to pick between Season A (the fall) or Season C (March 1 to May 1). According to a release from the CHSAA, the seasons will be treated equitably, but schools may not play in both. "This will allow local schools and districts to make the determination," the release read.On Aug. 4, the CHSAA announced Aug. it would push back football — along with field hockey, gymnastics, boys soccer, unified bowling and girls volleyball — to Season C. Each of the seasons will last approximate seven week with schedules and playoffs being reduced. Season A is well on its way and includes softball, boys golf, boys tennis and cross country. Season B (basketball, ice hockey, skiing, spirit, girls swimming and wrestling) goes from Jan. 4 and conclude March 6. Season D (baseball, girls golf, lacrosse, girls soccer, boys swimming, girls tennis, boys volleyball and track and field) starts April 26 and concludes in late June.

Connecticut — A day after announcing Oct. 1 as the start date for football, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference said Sept. 4 that there will be no 11-on-11 football in the fall. "Without DPH (Department of Health) support, the CIAC cannot move forward with a full-contact season as it would place superintendents and boards of education in the impossible position of acting against the recommendation of a state agency," the CIAC said in a release.
Football teams will still be eligible to condition as a team during the fall and the CIAC will consider combines and passing leagues. No plans were announced for tackle football in the winter or spring. Girls volleyball is awaiting the support of the DPH and if it is will join swimming, cross country, soccer and field hockey to play this fall.
St. Joseph (Trumbull) is the defending Class L state champion in Connecticut, which will play only a six-game regular season in the fall of 2020.
Photo by Kevin Pataky
St. Joseph (Trumbull) is the defending Class L state champion in Connecticut, which will play only a six-game regular season in the fall of 2020.
Delaware — On Sept. 17, the Delaware State Board of Education approved a revised plan from the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association that will allow fall competition to begin Oct. 19, with football beginning Oct. 23. This is a reversal from an Aug. 6 unanimous vote to push all fall sports back to winter and spring of 2021. DIAA state championships will take place in November and December, and tournaments would likely be reduced.

District of Columbia — Per July 16 announcement, the District of Columbia State Athletic Association has postponed interscholastic activities until January 2021. Under this plan, winter season practices would begin Dec. 14 with games coming Jan. 4. Postponed fall sports would begin practicing Feb. 1 with games getting underway Feb. 22.

Florida — The Florida High School Athletic Association's 16-member Board of Managers on Aug. 14 passed by a plan to start the fall season on Aug. 24 with an option to opt out the state playoffs by Sept. 18. By a vote of 11-5, the board chose Option 1 of the agenda, which allows schools to begin practice on Aug. 24, putting the first week of football games to Sept. 4. That's a week earlier than initially proposed during the last FHSAA meeting on July 23.

Georgia — The Georgia High School Association postponed its football season by two weeks. In a GHSA Board of Trustees meeting held July 20, the state's governing body decided to move back the first games from late August to Sept. 4, but will keep a 10-game schedule and a full slate of playoffs. Other fall sports in Georgia will start on time.

Hawaii — Citing a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association on Aug. 5 voted to postponed the start of football, cross country, cheer and girls volleyball to January. No new calendar was released, however, regarding how the push back would affect winter and spring sports.

Idaho — The Idaho High School Activities Association and its Board of Directors announced on July 16 it plans to proceed with the start of fall sports as scheduled.

Illinois — The Illinois High School Association announced July 29 that all of its sports will be altered to four shortened seasons (fall, winter, spring and summer) with football beginning in the spring. The IHSA's announcement came virtually at the same time that Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that there will be new restrictions to all youth and adult sports in the state, beginning Aug. 15. Sports will be categorized under three risk levels — high, medium and low. Low risk sports such as golf, girls tennis, cross country and girls swimming and diving shall remain in the fall under the IHSA plan. Football will join boys soccer and girls volleyball from the fall to join a busy spring season in Illinois.

Indiana — The Indiana High School Athletic Association tweeted July 29th that its fall sports season is on track to proceed as planned. Girls golf practice begins July 31 and other sports start on Aug. 3. The football season is set to kick off on Aug. 20.

Iowa — The Iowa High School Athletic Association baseball tournament ended Aug. 1 with 29,904 fans in attendance over four title games at Principal Park in Des Moines – home of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs — the highest turnout since 2014. ... On July 24, the IHSAA announced a flexible regular season schedule for football only. The start dates (practice Aug. 10, first game as early as Aug. 27) remain the same, but the association is allowing teams to play between five and seven regular-season contests during a seven-week season. Also, all teams in all classes will qualify for the postseason. Brackets will consist of six rounds for each classification.
In return to action on June 15 in Iowa, two Pleasant Valley celebrate a 3-2 win over Assumption (Davenport).
Photo by Mandy McGlothlin
In return to action on June 15 in Iowa, two Pleasant Valley celebrate a 3-2 win over Assumption (Davenport).
Kansas — The Kansas State High School Activities Association Board of Directors approved an optional alternative fall season on Aug. 28 for those schools which are unable to offer opportunities for athletes during the traditional fall season. The vote came 17 days after the Kansas City school board voted Aug 11 to suspend all fall sports — football, volleyball, cross country, boys soccer and spirit squad — and won't participate in any KSHSAA fall activities, which resume Aug. 31. Games will start at some point after Sept. 10.

Read more here: https://www.kansascity.com/sports/high-school/article244894107.html#storylink=cpy
Kentucky — The Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control approved a recommended motion July 28 to set first official football practices at Aug. 24, football game Sept. 11, first-round of playoffs Nov. 13-14 and state finals, Dec. 11-12. Practice starts for all other fall sports is also Aug. 24 and first games, Sept. 7.

Louisiana — The Louisiana High School Athletic Association announced Sept. 4 its football season will begin Oct. 8, pending approval from its board. Working with the governor's office, state legislators and education groups for more than a week, the LSHSAA's plan includes 50 percent fan occupancy for games. Volleyball will begin play next week with no more than 50 spectators in attendance. The new proposal calls for playoffs throughout the month of December. "In this case, I waited as long as I could wait to make sure we got every path covered," LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine told The Advocate. "And I truly believe our coaches and all the local administrative people. ... they've kicked tail and they are ready. With the hand that they have been dealt now, they are going to get another case of normality."

Maine — The Maine Principals' Association revised its fall schedule to begin practice for football, soccer, field hockey, cross country and volleyball on Sept. 8 with games slated to start on Sept. 18. But according to the Bangor Daily News, the MPA met Aug. 18 to discuss possible further revisions, and plans to make an announcement on those plans on Aug. 27.

Maryland — Less than two weeks after the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) firmed up its plan to return to sports starting on Feb. 1, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced a plan on Sept. 24 to begin as early as Oct. 7 with competition starting Oct. 27. The new plan would place fall sports back in its traditional place, with a seven-week season (Oct. 27-Dec. 12), finished off with championship week going Dec. 14-19. Salmon also gave the option for schools not able to play in the fall to use the MPSSAA two-semester plan laid out on Sept. 11. Under the new plan, teams and players could start working out and training immediately.

Massachusetts — The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association announced Aug. 19 that it has approved a recommendation from the organization's COVID-19 Task Force and the Department of Secondary Education to keep low and moderate risk sports in the fall, but move higher risk sports like football to a "floating season," starting Feb. 22.
The state had moved back its original Aug. 17 kickoff date one month, but the MIAA's Board of Managers voted unanimously to change the football date once more. Golf, volleyball, cross country, field hockey, soccer and gymnastics will continue as planned in the fall and start practice on Sept. 18 with the season concluding Nov. 20. After the winter season (Nov. 30-Feb. 21) with traditional sports, a floating season with football, cheer and unified basketball will go Feb. 22 to April 25. The spring is scheduled April 26 to July 3.

Michigan — The Michigan High School Athletic Association did a reversal of plans on Sept. 3 and moved football back to the fall from the spring, where it had been moved last month. In response to an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the MHSAA voted to reinstate all sports. Football practices will begin Sept. 7, games on Sept. 17-18 and the playoffs will likely include all teams. In addition, volleyball, soccer and swimming can begin competition on Sept. 9. Crowd sizes will be limited, according to the governor's office, and all social distancing protocols will be required, including the wearing of masks. The MHSAA expects to allow two tickets for each player. Live streaming restrictions will largely be lifted. According to an MHSAA release, 11-man football state finals will be Dec. 4-5.

Minnesota — On Sept. 21, the Minnesota State High School League voted 15-3 to move football and volleyball back to the fall season. Football practice will begin Sept. 28 with first games starting Oct. 9-10. A two-week postseason will follow a six-game regular season. An 11-week volleyball season starts on Sept. 28 but no spectators are allowed for indoor events. Currently a cap of 250 fans was set for outdoor events. Minnesota became the fourth state to flip back to the fall after the MSHSL announced Aug. 4 that it would move football and girls volleyball to the spring due to coronavirus concerns.

Mississippi — On July 14, the Mississippi High School Activities Association executive committee delayed the fall sports season two weeks. Football practices may begin Aug. 17 with games getting underway Sept. 4. All other sports can begin practicing Aug. 10 with first contests Aug. 24.

Missouri — The Missouri State High School Activities Association granted relief on summer limits on contact between coaches and students athletes. The Board voted to make the summertime dead period and summer limits on contact optional for the summer of 2020.

Montana — Between June 1 and July 31, current Montana High School Association summer rules will be in effect. On August 1, the state will be back to out-of-season restrictions until fall sports practices begin.

Nebraska — The Nebraska School Activities Association announced on July 20 that it is preparing to begin the fall sports season as scheduled. Practices are scheduled to begin Aug. 10.

Nevada — The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association on July 23 pushed winter sports back to a January start and the spring calendar to an April beginning. The NIAA does not anticipate state championships will be held.

New Hampshire — There are no new updates on summer activities or the fall season at the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, but does offer mental health support for all student-athletes in wake of COVID-19.

New Jersey — The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association is still planning to start sports in the fall, but not until Oct. 1, according to the NewJersey.com. The NJSIAA's "Return to Play" model released on July 10, the football regular season will be only six games instead of the traditional 10. Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order July 20 to allow contact drills, practices and competitions to resume in outdoor venues only.
Don Bosco Prep and St. Peter's Prep is one of the best rivalry games on the East Coast.
File photo by Tom Horak
Don Bosco Prep and St. Peter's Prep is one of the best rivalry games on the East Coast.
New Mexico — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on July 9 that high school fall contact sports, including football and boys soccer, will be postponed until at least the spring semester. New Mexico was the first to switch fall sports to the spring.

New York — The New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced Sept. 9 that it will postpone the fall football, volleyball and competitive cheerleading seasons until March 1, 2021. "We’ve spent two days speaking with nearly 500 athletic directors across the state and it's clear that administering high-risk fall sports during the COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant challenge for our member schools," NYSPHSAA executive director Dr. Robert Zayas said in a release. Low and moderate risk sports (girls tennis, cross country, girls swimming/diving, boys soccer, girls soccer, field hockey) are still scheduled to proceed with their Sept. 21 start date. The revised season for football, volleyball and fall competitive cheer will be known as "Fall Sports Season II" and may officially begin practices on March 1, 2021. As a result of fall high-risk sports being moved, the start date for the spring sports season has been adjusted to April 19, 2021. The first official practice for spring sports will now be April 19, 2021 (the original start date was March 15).

North Carolina — The North Carolina High School Athletic Association announced Aug. 12 a plan that delays some sports, but moves others, including football, into 2021. Football will start in early February with practices set to begin Feb. 8 and contests in a shortened seven-game schedule kicking off Feb. 26.  Cross country, girls volleyball, and swimming and diving all begin in November and end in January, while basketball, lacrosse and boys soccer follow with a January start. Golf, girls soccer, softball and boys tennis starting in March, while baseball, girls tennis, track and field, and wrestling start in April.

North Dakota — The North Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors voted unanimously on July 16 to proceed with all fall sports as scheduled. Open dates include Aug. 3 for soccer; Aug. 10 boys tennis, girls golf and cross country; and Aug. 17 for girls swim/dive and volleyball. Football kicks off Aug. 21.

Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced Aug. 18 during his regular press conference that all high school and organized sports — including those involving contact (football, soccer and field hockey) — are cleared for competition this fall in the Buckeye State. It will not include mandatory testing of COVID-19. "These decisions are not resolved in a vacuum," DeWine said "That discipline, desire to have a season I think certainly has the potential to compensate for the added danger that is there. A lot of good things come out of sports." The announcement came 11 days after the Ohio High School Athletic Association made several modifications to its original plan, that would shorten the football season to six games, all would make the playoffs and none would be played after Nov. 21.

Oklahoma — The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association said on July 23 that it plans for all sports, including football, to start as planned in the fall but is prepared to adjust with updates of the coronavirus pandemic. OSSAA executive director David Jackson told members he would provide schools with health guidelines but local districts will decide how to deal with positive COVID test results and fan control.

Oregon — The Oregon School Activities Association on Aug 5 moved its fall season to spring, condensed all seasons and waived all out-of-season coaching policies for the 2020-21 school year. The four-season format begins in late Dec. and concludes in late June, with football moving to season 3 (from Feb. 22 to May 8) along with cross country, volleyball and soccer. Season 2 (Dec. 28 to March 16) is basketball, swimming and wrestling and season 4 (April 19 to June 26) is baseball, softball, golf, tennis and track and field. Season 1 (Aug. 31 to Dec. 27) is designed for training for all sports and offer few restrictions. Oregon is the 10th state, along with District of Columbia, to move the 2020 football season to 2021.

Pennsylvania — The Philadelphia Catholic League announced Aug. 24 it is postponing all fall sports until the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. That decision comes just three days after the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association's Board of Directors voted 25-5 to move forward with the fall season as planned. The PIAA's decision, which gave all leagues and schools an option to opt out of the fall, was met with some division because it went against state Gov. Tom Wolf's "strong recommendation" on Aug. 6 to suspend all sports until Jan. 1. The PCL, traditionally of the strongest leagues in the state, includes 17 Catholic high schools in a five-county region. One of them is St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia), which is currently ranked No. 4 in the MaxPreps Top 25 football rankings and is the defending Class 6A state champion. Football kicks off with games on Sept. 11, and scrimmages the week before. All other fall sports will also start games Sept 11, except golf (Aug. 27) and tennis (Aug. 31).

Rhode Island — There will be no fall football or volleyball, according to the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. In a Sept. 4 RIIL press release: "In accordance with the Governor’s guidelines for high school sports, football, girls volleyball and unified volleyball have not been approved for team competition this fall. Consequently, the RIIL will be adopting a four-season model and those three sports not approved to start in September will be moved to Season 3, which will be held between the winter and spring seasons at a start date to be determined."

South Carolina — The South Carolina High School League Executive Committee on Aug. 5 unanimously passed a proposal (18-0) to push football practice back three weeks to Sept. 8. The first first games in the state will be Sept. 25, two weeks later than previously planned. Following an abbreviated seven-game regular season, 16-team playoff brackets (cut down from 32) will conclude with state championships scheduled for Dec. 4-5. Girls golf, girls tennis, swimming, cross country and volleyball all have either Aug. 17 or 24 start practice dates and competitive cheer opens Sept. 8. The SCHSL also made contingency plan to switch football to the spring if state health officials deem the sport unsafe due to COVID-19.

South Dakota — The South Dakota High School Activities Association unanimously approved an on-time start for all state-sanctioned sports in 2020-21, including football. A 17-page document with guidelines pertaining to COVID-19, among other items, was included in the July 22 meeting. Football practice will begin Aug 3 (smaller divisions) and Aug. 10 for larger schools. The SDHSAA committee considered moving the fall season back to the spring but determined it not to be "practical or necessary at this time."

ead more here: https://www.thestate.com/sports/high-school/article244735702.html#storylink=cpy
Tennessee — Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order on July 29 to allow contact sports to resume, provided they follow the requirements of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. That should open the door to a Aug. 21 start to the football season with a full regular season and postseason. A week earlier, the TSSAA's Board of Control approved a contingency/hybrid plan that gives flexibility to the state governing body on a week-to-week basis, depending on the development of the coronavirus pandemic. Crowd sizes will be reduced, temperatures of fans and facial coverings will be required. 

Texas — The University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced July 21 that fall activities for the state's two largest classifications, 6A and 5A, will be pushed back five weeks, the start of practice from Aug. 3 to Sept. 7, and games to begin Sept. 24-26. The football playoffs in those classifications originally slated for Nov. 12, now begin on Dec. 3, and title games, originally scheduled Dec. 16-19 at AT&T Stadium, now will take place sometime in Jan. Class 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A will continue as scheduled with practices beginning on Aug. 3 and games kicking off Aug. 27-29. ... The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) has pushed back the start of fall sports season for its member schools. Football practice may begin Sept. 8 with games getting underway Sept. 28.

Utah — Just as the state prepared to take center stage as the first to kick off the 2020 football season, three players from Utah's fifth-ranked team Bingham (South Jordan) tested positive for COVID and had to cancel its Aug. 14 opener against Weber. The Utah High School Activities Association board of trustees gave the go-ahead on July 9 to continue plans to begin the fall season as scheduled.

Vermont — The Vermont Principals' Association OK'd a plan on Aug. 11 that would replace tackle football in the fall with 7-on-7 touch football that will start Aug. 28. It did not address if tackle football will be attempted in the winter or spring of 2021. "A lot of it comes down to blocking and players being really close to each other — respiratory droplets on each other, breathing on each other, when a player is tackled there is a whole group of people together," VPA Executive Director Jay Nichols told the Burlington Free Press. "It became very clear that football is problematic." Girls volleyball in the fall would take place outdoors, though teams can practice indoors. The VPA also emphasized that face coverings to be worn at all times by players, coaches and spectators, though it won't be required of cross-country runners or low risk sports such as golf.

Virginia — The Virginia High School League Executive Committee on July 21 unanimously decided it would delay the start of fall sports and that football would not be played in the fall, but instead begin on March 1. The committee will reconvene on July 27 to decide on three recommended calendars. The three models include A) playing only low-contact sports like golf and cross country in the fall; B) Switch fall and springs seasons; and C) Delay all sports until at least a winter start with truncated seasons. Dates: winter sports — Dec. 14-Feb. 20 (first contest Dec. 28); fall sports — Feb. 15-May 1 (first contest March 1); spring sports — April 12-June 26 (April 26).

Washington — Washington became the fourth state and fifth region to move its football season to the spring. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced July 21 a plan to completely restructure its 2020-21 sports season, including football starting in March and upping a three-season school year for sports to four season. Washington will have a fall season but with non-contact sports cross country, slow pitch softball and girls swimming, golf and tennis that will run through early November. Complete release.

West Virginia — The 2020 football season will begin with practice on Sept. 3, according to West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission executive director Bernie Dolan. He made the announcement on July 10 a day after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced the start of the 2020-21 school year was pushed back to Sept. 8.

Wisconsin — The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control offered Aug. 14 alternative plans for schools that can't participate in the fall due to coronavirus restrictions. By a unanimous vote, the plans allows those programs and teams, including football, to play in the spring. For those keeping the regular fall schedule, practice starts Sept. 7. The fall football season will be a seven-game regular season and postseason, while spring football is the same without a postseason. Because seasons could overlap, the WIAA BOC OKd athletes to play more than one sport per season. All spring and winter sports schedules will be reduced.

Wyoming — The Wyoming High School Activities Association announced July 28 the fall sports season would begin on time. Practices for 4A football, golf and tennis begin Aug. 10, while cross country, 1A through 3A football, girls swimming and diving, and volleyball begin practice on Aug. 17.

Editor Aaron Williams contributed to this report.