UIL announces updated schedule for 2020-2021 season; 1A-4A to start on time, 5A-6A delayed to September
HOUSTON - The University Interscholastic League has announced a radical plan for the start of the 2020-2021 fall season.
On Tuesday, the UIL announced a new calendar for fall sports but it is split. Class 1A-4A will be allowed to start on time, while Class 5A and 6A will be pushed back a month into September.
"Our goal in releasing this plan is to provide a path forward for Texas students and schools," UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said in a news release. "While understanding situations change and there will likely be interruptions that will require flexibility and patience, we are hopeful this plan allows students to participate in the education-based activities they love in a way that prioritizes safety and mitigates risk of COVID-19 spread."
Modified UIL Activities Calendar & COVID-19 Guidelines for 2020-2021 School Year
Press Release ⬇️https://t.co/sv3boFOD43
Full COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Guidelines ⬇️https://t.co/o3qFFIZxrF
More COVID-19 Information ⬇️https://t.co/lE7fRyRbWY pic.twitter.com/vuWybpYVQ8
— Texas UIL (@uiltexas) July 21, 2020
Football and volleyball seasons for Class 1A through 4A will remain on time. Practice for football and volleyball teams will begin August 3, while volleyball will start games August 10 and football on August 27, like it was originally scheduled.
"There was a lot of hooping and hollering and jumping around our office this morning as soon as that hit," Splendora Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Marcus Schulz said. "We're definitely excited. We're excited for our kids. Our kids deserve that. I'm glad that Dr. [Susan] Elza and Dr. [Charles] Breithaupt and those at UIL made the decision that they did.
"For me, personally, I've got a daughter who's going to be a senior volleyball player, so I know she's going to be ecstatic."
Having the dates in place now, has allowed coaches such as Stafford Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Ken Savanah to get a plan together. Savanah will have to find a new Week 1 opponent as previously scheduled Angleton (5A) cannot start until September, he is also considering leaving that week open to allow a slow start back.
"My staff has been fired up," Savanah said. "We've all been under the impression that football is going to happen, just let us know when. We've been trying to keep our kids in the same mindset. It's going to happen, it may be adjusted but we were willing to adjust to whatever it is."
Getting structure back in the athletes lives is something Savanah believes will be vital to getting "a sense of normalcy" back in their lives.
"We have a bunch of kids who have been out doing nothing for four or five months now," Savanah said. "They're looking to get back to some sense of 'hey, I've got to be here, I've got to be there', other than just hanging out."
An issue that Savanah pointed out was their District 12-4A-DI is paired up with District 11-4A-DI for the first round of the playoffs. The problem with that is 11-4A-DI is an all-Houston ISD district. Currently, HISD has stated that athletics would not happen while they are in virtual learning, which is set to go until October 16.
Stafford has been conducting SAC camp throughout the summer. They started June 8 and then took the two-week break when the UIL requested teams do so and started back last week and are still going.
Class 5A and 6A football and volleyball teams will start practice on September 7, with volleyball matches beginning the week of September 14 and football starting the week of September 24.
One of those 6A teams is back-to-back state champion North Shore, which is eyeing its third-straight crown in 2020. For the first time in his coaching career, Jon Kay did not have spring football. The first fall practice for the Mustangs will have to wait until September now, but Kay is just happy to have a timeline in place.
"All of us are in the same boat, so we were prepared to start on time and now we will get prepared for the pushed back season," Kay said. "I'm just happy to have something to plan for."
The playoffs for 5A and 6A would start the week of December 7, which would set these dates: Bi-District Round (December 10-12), Area (December 17-19), Regional (December 24 or 26 (No games on Christmas Day), Quarterfinals (December 31-January 2), State Semifinals (January 7-9) and State Championship (Week of January 11 (TBD). If the UIL stays with AT&T Stadium for 5A and 6A state title games, they would have to navigate their title weekend around the NFL Playoffs.
Another aspect of pushing the state titles and some playoff games into January, what do players who want to early enroll do?
"With the season bleeding over into the second semester, it certainly adds another dimension of challenges," Kay, who had three players graduate early last season, said. "We have a couple more that are planning on graduating early this season. If we are fortunate enough to be playing in January, I'll be happy to deal with those challenges."
The differing seasons has caused some coaches, like Schulz, to go into scramble mode to fill his schedule, which had some 5A programs and private schools on the docket. Currently, Splendora is seeking a second scrimmage, and a Week 0,1 and 2 games, because Kingwood Park (5A), North Forest (5A), Baytown Lee (5A) and Spring Legacy (Private) were originally slated for those weeks.
With the different starts, that means state championship weekends will also be different.
Class 1A-4A state championships for volleyball will be November 18-21, while football will be December 16-19. For Class 5A and 6A, the state championships for volleyball will be moved to December 11-12 and football will be shifted to January with a date to be decided. Another shift will be team tennis championships are moved to November 11-12, which is for all classifications, and cross country is moved from November to December 5.
This announcement comes after the California Interscholastic Federation announced it would be moving the fall sports to the spring with start dates in December and January.
That move has already caused some recruiting movement. According to his Twitter, ESPN 300 recruit Victory Vaka has already announced his intentions to forgo his senior season and early enroll at Texas A&M.
According to High School Football America there are 13 states that have adjusted the start of the 2020 football season. According to their post, Arizona (September 11), Hawaii (Postponed), Mississippi (September 4), New Jersey (October 2), New York (October 1), New Mexico (Moved to Spring), South Carolina (September 11), Tennessee (Postponed), Vermont (Postponed), Virginia (Moved to Spring), Washington (September 18) and West Virginia (September 3) and California (Moved to Spring) have made their plans known.
Of the states that have made announcements, California, Virginia and New Mexico have been the only ones to have pushed fall sports to the spring.
Prior to Monday's announcement by the UIL, in Texas the Southwest Preparatory Conference announced on Thursday it would not start athletics until September 8 with conference games being held off until September 21. The next day, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) announced no games, workouts or scrimmages before September 7. Workouts could begin September 8 with volleyball matches being postponed to September 21 and football until September 28.
HOUSTON - The UIL Legislative Council held a special meeting on Friday morning.
During the meeting, UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt gave an update on the current plans of the UIL as we push into the month of May and the summer.
"Even though we lost the spring seasons and the basketball tournament, we are hoping with all hope that we can resume sometime this summer with our offseason conditioning programs and non-school opportunities to work with students," Breithaupt said.
The UIL was diligent through the spring to keep updating plans as more information was available through the weeks until ultimately canceling the spring sports on April 17 for the remainder of the 2019-2020 athletic calendar.
As far as sports returning, Breithaupt said the UIL is working on plans for every scenario.
"We are both making plans for the regular start of school and our activities and then if there is a delayed start what we might do," he said. "We're also planning for what might happen if we start and have to stop again. If that does happen our staff is up to the task and I know that you'll work with us to help make these things happen.
"Our plans are focused on the 2020-2021 season."
Of course, the biggest question right now is if and when the Texas High School football season could start? When could practices begin?
"We're not going to start any practices in the summer until we see that the NFL, college football, NBA, MLB or any of the pro sports. None of those have resumed play," Breithaupt said. "I saw yesterday that Little League Baseball cancelled the Little League World Series. So, that tells you that across the world activities have been cancelled.
"We're not going to get ahead of the curve, we're going to make sure our students are safe, just as you are."
The UIL Legislative Council did vote on two action items on Friday morning, which were both passed.
The first resolution grants more authority to Breithaupt as the Executive Director of the UIL "to make adjustments to UIL rules as needed related to the COVID-19 crisis".
According to UIL Deputy Director Jamey Harrison the resolution is limited in three ways with an expiration date, limited to making adjustments due to COVID-19 and it states that the UIL staff will communicate with the Legislative Council when it is being utilized.
So, what changes could be made due to this resolution?
"Some examples include scheduling and start dates for specific sports," Harrison said. "We recognize that students have missed a lot of time with their band directors, coaches and academic sponsors. They've missed a lot of time in their activities. So, where we restrict access to kids and opportunities for our school staff to work with kids, I fully intend to relax those restrictions. Give them some opportunity to make up for this missed time, whenever it is that we can safely convene again and conduct workouts for example.
"I expect to see some significant alterations to coaching restrictions in the summer and in the fall as we move forward, allowing kids and coaches to make up for as much as this missed time as they have and as we can offer."
Currently, UIL rules state that during the summer, students can attend no more than one two-hour strength and conditioning program per day, Monday through Thursday, when school is out. Students are also limited to two hours per week of sport specific skill instruction, conducted by a school coach or coaches, with a one hour maximum in any one given day.
The second resolution passed concerned student physicals.
According to Harrison, the proposal stated a student who was cleared in a physical examination in the 2019-2020 school year can continue to participate this year, "unless there is some indication on a student's medical history form that would require further medical evaluation".
For students who haven't received a physical to be cleared for participation, Harrison said they will have to get one for the 2020-2021 athletic year.
The next UIL Legislative Council meeting is set for June 16.