North Carolina had been on the last holdouts on whether to move forward
with a fall high school sports calendar, delay beginnings or push back
seasons. On Wednesday, the state's athletic association presented 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. The regular season would end April 9. The plans released Wednesday don't have postseason dates included, but state officials said plans were made and would be announced later.
"Last night the Board of Directors approved a framework we believe
maximizes the opportunities for students in our membership to
participate in athletics at some point during this school year,
regardless of what plan a school and/or school system operates," NCHSAA Executive Director Que Tucker said in a Zoom call announcing the revised schedules.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association said last week it would delay its seasons after Gov. Roy Cooper extended his "Phase II" reopening order. North Carolina joins 13 other states plus the District of Columbia in delaying its football season.
Cross country, girls volleyball, and swimming and diving all would begin in November and end in January, while basketball, lacrosse and boys soccer would follow with a January start.
The new calendars also call for golf, girls soccer, softball and boys tennis starting in March, while baseball, girls tennis, track and field, and wrestling start in April. Indoor track season was not included in the plans.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL KICKOFFS: Updates from all 50 states
Tucker said many people weighed in on moving the calendar, including the NCHSAA staff and executive committee, athletic directors from throughout the state, the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and the Sports Ad Hoc Committee.
“We feel it is critically important to provide opportunities for North
Carolina student athletes to participate, and compete, in
education-based athletics," said Dr. Josh Bloom of the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. "While there are risks with resuming NCHSAA
sanctioned athletics, it has also become very clear that there are
significant negative consequences with not providing this option to
student athletes. Accordingly, this is an exercise in balance — and we
are committed to an appropriate balance of both safety AND
Tucker closed her Zoom announcement with the message that "we cannot change the realities of COVID-19," but reiterated her earlier message "We will play again, and it is in that spirit that we present this calendar."