WH Heritage midfielder Eimy Esparza wins the race to the ball against Greenbrier's Rebecca Stafford during a 2019 game.

The TSSAA announced Wednesday morning that its Board of Control would delay voting on contingency plans for the football and girls soccer seasons.

“Based on conversations we are having with Governor Bill Lee’s legal council, we think it is best to delay any vote on a contingency plan,” TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress said.

Close contact sports are not allowed until at least Aug. 29 under Lee’s current emergency declaration. However, college and professional sports are exempt from the order and the TSSAA hopes high school sports can be added to that list.

“The (Governor's) legal team is aware of our sports calendar and (we) will continue to work for the best and plan for the worst,” Childress said. “We have plans in place but do not feel it is necessary to make a decision today.

“The return on your investment to wearing a mask, socially distancing and washing your hands is having fall sports this year.”

Football and girls soccer were slated to begin full practices this month and games in mid-August. That timeline is on hold until the TSSAA gets an answer from Lee’s office. If granted an exemption, fall high school sports could start on time.

Below are the three football options being discussed assuming no exemption and that Lee’s order expires on Aug. 29, which would allow practices to begin on Aug. 30 and games to start on Sept. 18:

1. Seven-game regular season, 32 playoff teams and a full postseason. Teams that don’t qualify for the playoffs could schedule two additional games.

2. Eight-game regular season, 16 playoff teams with one less week of postseason play. Teams that don’t qualify for the playoffs could schedule two additional games.

3. Nine-game regular season, eight playoff teams and only region champions advance to the postseason. Teams that don’t qualify for the playoffs could schedule one additional game.

A fourth option of a 10-game regular season with no state championships is also on the table, but that plan did not have much support from the Tennessee Football Coaches Association.

Girls soccer season and its state championships could be pushed back a few weeks and played in full or regular-season games could be eliminated in order to begin the postseason as normal in October.  

Preseason jamborees, 7-on-7 drills and scrimmages for football and girls soccer are not allowed under any plan. However, teams may continue to hold conditioning workouts and fundamental drills that do not involve close contact.

TSSAA Assistant Executive Director Matthew Gillespie also announced that each member school can receive two free Pixellot cameras from the NFHS Network to broadcast future games.

The Board of Control will hold its next scheduled meeting on July 22 at Siegel High School for a classification study session. Social distancing and capacity limits will be observed, and masks will be required for all attendees.

Russell Vannozzi contributed to this report. 

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