Given the opportunity Wednesday to set the agenda for the high school sports season in South Carolina, the Appellate Panel of the South Carolina High School League called an audible. The panel voted 5-1 not to make a decision Wednesday on an appeal from Lexington School District One on its proposal to move football and other “high risk’ sports to late winter and spring and move the “lower risk” sports to the fall.
The panel set another meeting for August 10th, this one to be in person at the league office. It will come a few days after the next meeting of the SCHSL Executive Committee which last week voted 16-1 against the Lexington proposal prompting the appeal to the panel. At that same meeting, the committee approved a fall sports plan written by the league.
The Appellate Panel heard arguments from Lexington One officials, including athletics director David Bennett and superintendent Dr. Greg Little, and counter arguments from league commissioner Jerome Singleton and league attorney Becky Laffitte in a Zoom session that lasted better than two hours.
The Lexington group argued that moving sports like baseball and softball to the fall would give those sports, which were cancelled last spring, an opportunity to be played because they carry a lower risk when it comes to Covid-19. They also argued that the high school league plan that allows for four weeks of football practice before the first game is not enough preparation time for those schools which have had no summer training available to their players, thus moving that sport to late January would remedy that.
And, in the group’s opinion, it would be safer to play contact sports or those where the players in are close quarters in the winter and spring in the hopes the pandemic will have subsided by then.
Here’s the plan put forward by Lexington One:
▪ Fall Sports (Sept. 21-Nov. 17): Girls tennis, baseball, softball, girls lacrosse, girls golf, and boys/girls swimming and cross country. Golf and swimming would be from Sept. 7-Oct. 30. Girls tennis would have 12 regular-season matches. Baseball and softball would have 16 regular-season games. Girls lacrosse would have 12 games, girls golf eight matches and four meets for swimming. There would be five meets for cross country.
▪ Winter Sports (Nov. 23-Jan. 29): Girls and boys basketball and spirit cheer. The boys and girls basketball seasons would each have 16 regular-season games.
▪ Spring Sports I (Jan. 25-April 2): Football, volleyball, competitive cheer. Football would play six regular-season games, volleyball 12 matches and four competitions for competitive cheer.
▪ Spring Sports II (March 22-May 28): Boys/girls soccer, boys tennis, wrestling, track, boys lacrosse track and boys golf. Soccer and tennis would each have 12 matches, wrestling eight matches, five track meets, 12 lacrosse games and eight golf matches.
The High School League’s plan calls for fall sports to be played in their traditional spots. High school football practice would start August 17th and the first games would be played September 11th. The league’s plan, according to Singleton, would allow for adjustments based on the newest information of each day, such that the start dates for practice and games could be moved back a week, or more.
Here’s what the High School League’s plan proposed:
Fall Sports start date moved from July 31st to August 17th for first day of practice for all sports.
Start date will be reviewed within 1 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.
First Game: September 11th (Begin with Region play)
Maximum Regular Season Games: 7
Playoffs Start: October 30th
State Finals: November 20th
Girls’ Tennis and Volleyball:
First Contest: August 31st (Begin with Region play)
Girls’ Tennis and Volleyball Playoffs Start: October 19th
Girls’ Tennis and Volleyball State Finals: October 31st
Swim and Girls’ Golf:
First Contest: August 31st
Swim State Finals: October 10th and 12th
Girls’ Golf Qualifiers: October 19th
Girls’ Golf State Finals: October 26th and 27th
First Contest: August 31st
Cross Country Qualifiers: Week of November 2nd – 7th
Cross Country State Finals: Week of November 9th -14th
First Contest: September 12th
Upper/Lower Qualifiers: Week of November 2nd – 7th Upper/Lower Qualifier
Cheer State Finals: Week of November 9th -14th
The strongest complaint by some members of the panel was that they didn’t feel they had enough information to make an educated decision. Chairman Bill McCall and member Otis Rawl, in particular, said they hadn’t seen the proposals from either side prior to Wednesday’s meeting. That led to a motion for a delay in action and the August 10th meeting with only Raleigh King of the Sixth Congressional District voting against a delay.
Click here to watch Wednesday’s Appellate Panel meeting
Click here to watch SCHSL commissioner Jerome Singleton talk with the media after the meeting