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The Virginia High School League's Executive Committee unanimously approved Thursday by a vote of 33-0 the regular-season, regional and state tournament schedule for the 2020-21 academic year. 

With the coronavirus pandemic delaying the start of the sports season, schools' athletic teams will now compete from December to June in a compressed format by playing only 60 percent of their usual regular-season schedules.

Thursday’s decision means only four teams from each region advance to states for all sports. Each sport will have a state championship, but there are no state quarterfinals.

The winter sports season will begin in December followed by the fall sports season in February and the spring sports season in April.

Basketball is the first sport to get underway with practice opening Dec. 7 and the first games beginning Dec. 21. Under the new regular-season limit, basketball teams will compete in 14 games.

Football will hold six regular-season games over seven available dates so that a bye week is included.

For safety reasons, the first two games would be played on Feb. 22 (Monday) and Feb. 27 (Saturday). The rest of the dates would fall on Fridays (March 5, 12, 19, 26 and April 2).

Schools can schedule six Friday night football games if they so choose.

District tournaments would be allowed and not count against the regular-season limit. Teams not participating in region tournaments will be allowed to schedule one additional game that must be completed by region deadline. That’s why the VHSL is calling its plans “Championships +1” postseason format.

Any game not played due to COVID-19 issues will be counted as a game not played instead of a forfeit.

Districts will create all district schedules and create protocols for handing situations for games affected by COVID-19

District/regions will be responsible for implementing all guidelines and recommendations approved by the VHSL Executive Committee that are designed to decrease exposure to COVID-19 and protect student-athletes, coaches, officials, game administration and fans.

Each region will decide its own format as well.

Wrestling will be 8-person brackets and one-day state tournaments.

Indoor track will qualify the top three region finishers in each event (standards will not be used for the 2020-2021 state meet).

Outdoor track will qualify the top four region finishers in each event (standards will not be used for the 2020-21 state meet).

Swimming and diving will qualify top four region finishers in each event (standards will not be used for the 2020-21 state meet).

Golf (boys) will qualify 1 team and three individuals per region.

Golf (girls) will qualify through zone qualifiers.  Automatic qualifiers are girls who participate on their boy’s team and finish in the t0p 8 at the boys golf state championships.

Gymnastics will be one team per region and top three individuals per region for each event (standards will not be used for the 2020-21 state meet).

The VHSL’s Executive Committee met Aug. 27 to hear the initial scheduling proposal. The executive committee then planned to formalize its schedule in a Sept. 3 meeting, but pushed the decision back two weeks to give more time for feedback and review.

Changes to the Aug. 27 proposal are the following:

State track for Classes 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 was originally scheduled for Feb. 13. But with no facilities available on that date, the dates now are tentatively scheduled for March 1 and 2 at Liberty University (Class 3 and 4) and the Virginia Beach Sports Complex (Class 5 and 6). Those date changes mean an overlap with the start of the football season.

Qualifying for state cross country is now two teams and top three individuals from each region instead of one team and five individuals. 

The dates for the dead periods are Dec. 7-Dec. 19 for season 1, Feb. 4-Feb. 20 for season 2 and April 12-April 24 for season 3. Each season will have 12 days for each dead period.

And the first practice date for sideline cheer is Dec. 7 to allow for 20 days. Teams can start cheering Dec. 21, but Jan. 6 is the first day stunting is permitted.

VHSL executive director Billy Haun opened Thursday's meeting by addressing the "Let Them Play" rally held last weekend in Richmond. 

“The VHSL office and the Executive Committee have received numerous emails from parents with concerns about our student-athletes not competing in sports this fall,” Haun said during Thursday’s video conference.“The VHSL has been made aware of a petition that is out there by this group that has over 5,000 signatures on it.”

Haun said the VHSL received numerous emails, most of which focused on football. Haun said concerns centered on four areas: frustration that athletes could compete in club sports during the summer, but could not participate in VHSL events; the mental and emotional strain on athletes for not competing on a team; missed scholarship opportunities and the fact that other states are playing high school sports this fall. 

Citing information from the National Federation of State High School Associations, Haun said the VHSL is one of eight state associations in the nation not playing any fall sports in 2020. The VHSL is also one of 18 state associations not playing football in the fall either. 

Overall, 14 state associations are playing fall sports with no restrictions, while 29 are playing with some modifications. Fourteen state associations are competing in football with no changes and 19 are participating in football with some changes. 

Haun said the VHSL continues to follow state re-opening guidelines. Virginia is in Phase III, which prohibits contact sports. 

Another consideration for the VHSL in determining whether to allow sports this fall is how school divisions are currently handling classes in different formats. Of Virginia's 132 school divisions, 68 are fully remote, while 10 are in person, 25 partially in person, 25 that are hybrid and four that are partially hybrid. 

The regular-season, regional and state tournament schedule is below for the fall, winter and spring sports seasons.

Season 1 – Winter Sports

Activity

Number of Contests

MPR

First Practice

First Contest

Region Start

Region Deadline

VHSL Semi-Finals

VHSL Finals

Basketball

14

8

12/07

12/21

02/08

02/13

02/16

02/20

Gymnastics

6

8

12/14

12/28

02/01

02/06

NA

02/12-13

Indoor Track

6

8

12/14

12/28

02/01

02/06

NA

02/13

Sideline Cheer

NA

20

12/14

01/06

NA

NA

NA

NA

Swim & Dive

6

8

12/14

12/28

02/03

02/06

NA

02/13

Wrestling

8

8

12/14

12/28

02/01

02/13

NA

02/18-20

 

 

 

Season 2 – Fall Sports

Activity

Number of Contests

MPR

First Practice

First Contest

Region Start

Region Deadline

VHSL Semi-Finals

VHSL Finals

Competition Cheer

3

20

02/04

03/01

04/05

04/10

NA

04/17

Cross Country

6

8

02/15

03/01

04/12

04/17

NA

04/23-24

Field Hockey

10

8

02/15

03/01

04/12

04/17

04/20

04/22-24

Football

6

15

02/04

02/22

04/07

04/17

04/24

05/01

Golf (Boys)

8

NA

02/15

03/01

04/12

04/15

NA

04/19

Golf (Girls)

8

NA

02/15

03/01

NA

NA

04/21-22

04/26

Volleyball

12

8

02/15

03/01

04/12

04/17

04/20

04/23-24

 

 

Season 3 – Spring Sports

Activity

Number of Contests

MPR

First Practice

First Contest

Region Start

Region Deadline

VHSL Semi-Finals

VHSL Finals

Baseball

12

8

04/12

04/26

06/14

06/19

06/22

06/26

Lacrosse

9

8

04/12

04/26

06/14

06/19

06/22

06/26

Soccer

10

8

04/12

04/26

06/14

06/19

06/22

06/26

Softball

12

8

04/12

04/26

06/14

06/19

06/22

06/26

Tennis

10

8

04/12

04/21

05/20

06/05

06/07

06/11-13

Track & Field

9

8

04/12

04/26

06/7

06/12

NA

06/18-19

David Fawcett is the sports editor for InsideNoVa.com. Reach him at dfawcett@insidenova.com

(1) comment

JimiWeaver4

Now we just need the individual Districts to make their decisions as to whether spectators will be allowed at games.

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