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SCHSL Announces Plan For Fall Sports To Move Forward With A Delayed Practice Schedule & Great Flexibility For Potential Adjustments If Needed

SCHSL Announces Plan For Fall Sports To Move Forward With A Delayed Practice Schedule & Great Flexibility For Potential Adjustments If Needed  

From Staff Reports/High School Sports, Inc.

Columbia—An hour long “Zoom” press conference between members of the news media and SCHSL High School League Commissioner Jerome Singleton (on Wednesday July, 15th) focused on answering questions about the upcoming Fall sports season in South Carolina and it was announced that the League’s Executive committee had approved a plan to approve the sports season moving ahead despite a recent surge in Covid-19 cases that had shut down in person instruction at member schools resulting in the cancellation of Spring sports.

Commissioner Singleton stressed that the Covid 19 Pandemic remains a moving target that required some alternate plans for the 2020 fall sports season with news media members from all- across the state. At the conclusion of the press conference he said it was especially important for athletes, school officials and the community in general to follow all social distancing guidelines and he stressed the importance of wearing masks.

Prior to the press conference the Executive committee of the SCHSL met to discuss options about how to proceed with the fall sports season and naturally the focus was on how football could be affected as the new school year is approaching. David Bennett, the District Athletic director from Lexington County presented a proposal that would have delayed football from starting until after the first of the year among other things with baseball and softball switching to the fall. The SCHSL executive committee voted that proposal down 16-1 and now Lexington County plans to appeal to the Seven-member Appellate Court next week. A proposal in the form of a letter from the school district in Greenville County asking that fall sports be cancelled altogether was voted defeated by the committee as well.

The SCHSL recently mailed a survey form to all its’ members and they got back responses from 159 of the 204 members fielding varsity athletic programs in the state. Mr. Singleton said he studied the return surveys very carefully for ideas and to get direct input from the membership.  

What the SCHSL agreed upon during their meeting on Wednesday is very similar to a plan adopted by school officials in Horry County. High school football practice will now start on August 17th pushed back from an original July 31st start. Teams can participate in either two scrimmages and one jamboree. The season can start as early as September 11th, but Mr. Singleton said a two- week flexibility has been built into the seven-game season should issues arise with Covid 19 to delay the start of the season. Mr. Singleton indicated if the season didn’t start by September, 21st it would be difficult to have a complete season including a four week 16 team playoff season in all five classifications with a state championship played on Friday and Saturday November 20-21 (all at the same venue if possible). 

The latest date for the playoffs to start (should there be some adjustments to the season) would be around November 6th. Commissioner Singleton said region games were a priority and that the playoffs would ideally start October 23rd.  He also indicated the season could be extended up to two weeks just like it had been in recent years with the on-slaught of flooding caused by hurricanes.   

Mr. Singleton also fielded a question by one reporter asking about an additional 8th game that would be an option for those teams not making the playoffs that could be played the first week of the playoffs. “We may have to make adjustments on the run,” said Singleton. He also responded to another question about fans being allowed at games. “That is a local decision by each individual school district and each school,” he said.

After fielding several questions Commissioner Singleton stated, “What is real today might not be the same tomorrow,” he said. “What we have here is truly a moving target. At some point (should Covid-19 get worse) we might be asking ourselves is it safe to play at all?”

Dillon High School Hall of  Fame head coach Jackie Hayes, also 20-plus year member of the South Carolina Legislature, said he is just happy to have a plan he and other schools can plan around and look forward to having a football season. “It was important for the League to approve a plan at this time so all the schools can start planning for the season and I know I join other coaches around the state in that we are thankful to be having a season, although revised some by the virus situation,” said Coach Hayes. “With this virus going around things can change every day and I feel good about having the Lexington plan as a back-up should we start the season and have to quit playing at some point,” said Coach Hayes. “We certainly hope to get the virus under control and that we can get through the season without having to shut down the schools that would also effect all the fall sports. We are just happy to have a plan and we are excited about getting ready for the season.”

Coach Hayes said his team shut down workouts just prior to the July 4th holiday. He said the Wildcats will resume weight training and general conditioning around August 3rd with organized practices starting on the 17th. There are 134 junior varsity and varsity candidates working out at Dillon and Coach Hayes said  the local school district is requiring the athletes and their parents to sign a Covid-19 waiver releasing Dillon High School and the district from any legal issues should an athlete contact the virus while practicing or competing.

“Our county attorney drew up the player participation contract and our athlete’s parents or guardians have to sign this waiver form and get it notarized,” said Coach Hayes. “We are following all the protocols to keep our athletes safe. We will wear masks at all times except when we are actually doing drills.”


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