By CINDY CROSBY
Colleton County’s football season is still pending after a South Carolina High School League (SCHSL) virtual Zoom meeting Wednesday July 15 that addressed changes to the upcoming fall sports season due to COVID-19. The decision to follow (or not) the SCHCL guidelines will be up to the Colleton County School District.
According to Wayne Alston, Colleton County director of district athletics, a meeting is planned for mid-week with district and school officials to determine when conditioning and practice for fall sports will resume. Alston asks that any student-athlete interested in conditioning to remain in contact with their coach.
The SCHCL guidelines allow for football practice to start July 31 with a seven-game season beginning August 17. Guidelines were also issued for other traditional fall sports: swim, girls’ golf, cross-country, competitive cheer and girls’ tennis, volleyball.
There were three action items presented for voting including:
• Lexington County School District One Sports Seasons Proposal
• Review of Sports Seasons for 2020-21 School Year
• Greenville County School District Superintendent Request Suspension of in-person workouts.
The SCHSL Executive Committee voted and approved the league’s plan to keep fall sports moving forward, with a focus on being “fluid” for possible changes.
In a later press release from the SCHSL, state commissioner Jerome Singleton said, “It is the premise and promise of this league, from the membership, SCHSL staff, executive board and appellate panel, to support and encourage athletic participation among all of South Carolina’s students. We have been overcome with grief and outright disappointment since mid-March when the nation was at a standstill with the onset of Covid-19. What has followed is months of uncertainty, confusion, and despair. That ends now! We are forging ahead with the information we have, placing as many health and safety precautions at the frontline and allowing fall sports to continue with adjustments.
“The SCHSL is committed to doing our very best to lift our students, support our coaches, and activate our programs to start anew. Making alterations to the sports calendar was one of many steps that also incorporated the previously shared guidelines. Stressing the importance of CDC and DHEC safety guidelines is paramount to the success of our sports season.”
The following decisions were part of the approved Review of Sports Season Plan for the 2020-21 fall sports season by a 14-2 vote: (This plan does not affect SCISA schools, which are governed by the South Carolina Independent Schools Association.)
• Approved to push back start of practice from July 31 to August 17.
• Seven-game football season to begin September 11 (three fewer than normal, with the flexibility to add non-region contests later in the season possibly).
• Region games (girls’ tennis, volleyball, football) played first and shortened playoff schedule
• Proposed SCHSL Fall Sports Season Calendar (pending an appeal set to be heard the week of 7-20)
• Fall sports start date moved from July 31 to August 17 for first day of practice for all sports.
• Start date will be reviewed within one week prior to determine if it is possible to start on that specific date. If determined that it is not possible, then the anticipated start date will be moved/delayed to no less than one week from the original start date.
• Each time the start date is moved/delayed, the length of the sports season as well as the playoffs will have to be evaluated to determine the best option for each sport.
Start Date Layout
Football: First Game: September 11 (begin with region play); maximum regular season games: 7; Playoffs start October 30; State Finals: November 20.
Girls’ Tennis and Volleyball: First Contest: August 31 (begin with region play); girls’ tennis and volleyball playoffs start: October 19; girls’ tennis and volleyball state finals: October 31.
Swim and Girls’ Golf: First Contest: August 31; Swim state finals: October 10 and 12; Girls’ golf qualifiers: October 19; girls’ golf state finals: October 26 and 27.
Cross Country: First contest: August 31; Cross country qualifiers: Week of November 2-7; Cross country state finals: Week of November 9-14.
Competitive Cheer: First Contest: September 12; Upper/Lower qualifiers: Week of November 2-7; Cheer state finals: Week of November 9-14.
In the sports of football, volleyball, and girls’ tennis, region play will be used to determine playoff seedings. Teams not making the playoffs in football will be allowed one additional game.
In the sports of swim, girls’ golf, cross-country, and competitive cheer, qualifier events will determine advancement to the respective state finals.
In last week’s meeting, Commissioner Singleton stated it was unclear if fans would be allowed to attend games at this point, due to an existing ban on spectator sports placed in effect by Gov. Henry McMaster. According to Singleton, if the governor’s ban is lifted, districts would then determine if fans would be allowed in attendance at fall sporting events. He also clarified that the league’s plan allows athletes to participate in sports whether they are attending school virtually or face-to-face.
Lexington School District One’s proposed plan fell by a vote of 16-1 but will be appealed before the appellate panel this week. The Lexington proposed plan flipped sports seasons moving traditional fall sports to the spring and shifting most spring sports to the fall.