ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Cleveland senior point guard JaCobi Wood skies to the basket to score during Monday's Class AAA home sectional victory over Siegel. The Mr. Basketball finalist finished with 23 points and eight assists to help his team reach the state tournament for a second straight season. / Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon

This story was updated at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, with more information.

Hoping to salvage the sports dreams of several thousand high school athletes throughout the state, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's Board of Control voted unanimously Tuesday to continue the wait-and-see plan.

The board accepted a recommendation by TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress to do whatever it takes to hold a spot on the calendar for the girls' and boys' state basketball tournaments as well as the spring sports' season and Spring Fling.

"We have stayed in close contact with the Tennessee Department of Health, the CDC and other experts giving us advice on how to deal with the situation," Childress said. "Because of the COVID-19 virus, unfortunately we could look at just saying the basketball season is over, but we're not at that point yet.

"We don't want to give up on allowing those young people who have earned the right to play in the tournament to have that opportunity. It could be just a pipe dream, but in our opinion we need to look to continue to see where we are after a few weeks and reevaluate things then. We need our student-athletes to know we're going to do everything we can to try and save their season."

On Monday Gov. Bill Lee ordered all Tennessee school districts to close by Friday in response to the coronavirus. If students are allowed to return to school in time to allow the state basketball tournaments to be rescheduled, they likely would need to be restarted by May 11.

"We could make plans, but everything is changing rapidly day by day because of the health concerns," Childress added. "We are trying everything we can but ultimately it could be out of our hands."

Tuesday's Board of Control meeting, which was supposed to take place in Murfreesboro, was changed to a teleconference because of concerns over the coronavirus.

The girls' state basketball tournament was postponed after the quarterfinal round and would have two rounds remaining. The boys' state tournament, originally scheduled to be played this week, would still have four days of games that would need to be played.

Cleveland's boys' team is the only Chattanooga-area team still remaining in either of the state tournaments.

"Our guys have the mindset that if we get to play, we'll be ready, but if we don't there's nothing we can do about it," Blue Raiders coach Reggie Tucker said. "I really appreciate that the TSSAA is making every effort to save the season and give all the kids hope.

"It may be a slim chance but there is hope. No matter what, nobody can take away what these kids have done this season."

The board also voted unanimously to leave regular-season spring sports scheduling under the jurisdiction of the schools, which means that technically teams will not have to play any regular-season games and can simply begin with district tournaments.

"If a school decides not to play any regular-season games, they must be allowed to play in the postseason without penalty," Childress said.

The board discussed the possibility of extending the spring sports season by two weeks in order to have the Spring Fling — the state championship tournament for baseball, soccer, softball, tennis and track and field — sometime around the first week of June.

The Georgia High School Association also released a statement on Tuesday updating its plan for spring sports. The statement read: "In response to Governor (Brian) Kemp's mandatory closure of Georgia's public schools, the mandatory closure will extend to all GHSA sports and activities including practice. Schools are scheduled to reopen on March 31, and we will follow the guidance available to us at that time. The safety of our student-athletes and all of those that they come in contact with is our top priority."

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT