FHSAA votes to push start date of fall sports back to Aug. 24

The FHSAA board of directors held its second virtual meeting of the week Thursday, July 23, to discuss start dates for the upcoming fall sports seasons.

After logging more than eight hours of virtual meeting time, the Florida High School Athletic Association decided to delay the start of fall sports to Aug. 24.

The organization’s board of directors met for nearly five hours July 20 and an additional three-plus on July 23. COVID-19 has caused school districts and athletic departments to repeatedly alter plans as they monitor a situation in constant flux. That was on full display this week. On July 20, the board agreed to allow fall sports programs to, if they wish, begin practicing and preparing for a typical regular season on July 27. Three days later, on July 23, the board changed course and pushed that start date for practices back nearly a month, to Aug. 24.

The motion that passed calls for a reconvening of the board, in person, at a date no later than Aug. 17. This meeting would allow the board to once again reassess its decision to restart practices Aug. 24 in relation to COVID-19 statistics at that time.

The board’s latest decision passed with an 11-4 vote. A prevailing opinion among dissenters on July 23 was to allow individual districts and counties to choose whether or not their schools were ready to start up seasons or not, considering COVID-19 is affecting some areas harder than others.

While fall sports programs are not allowed to hold official practices leading up to Aug. 24, summertime conditioning work may continue.

The FHSAA is also allowing member schools in all fall sports to opt out of the state postseason series, considering still-unforeseen issues such as scheduling and travel challenges. A number of counties in recent days, including Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough, have discussed opting out of the state series and creating their own regional conference, according to reports from Bob Putnam and the high school sports website PrimeTimePreps.com.

Hernando and Pasco counties released statements regarding their own plans for fall sports schedules prior to the July 23 FHSAA meeting

The Hernando County School District announced July 23 that its fall sports schedule would be postponed indefinitely. A press release states that fall sports will remain delayed until the community shows a downward trajectory of positive tests. The district based its decision on recommendations provided by the FHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

“When public health benchmarks are met, schools in Hernando are likely to hold in-conference games only,” the press release reads. “A conference schedule will be developed if the season starts without a lengthy delay.”

Pasco County Schools posted its announcement on Twitter July 22, stating that all fall sports will start on Sept. 7. The school board voted Tuesday, July 21, to delay its return to class by two weeks, to Aug. 24. The Twitter post stated that more details are to come.