Athletic directors urge postponing high school football games until December; will that happen?

South Florida Sun Sentinel | Adam Lichtenstein | August 5, 2020

A committee of Florida high school athletic directors is recommending pushing the start of the fall sports season back to December due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to North Broward Prep athletic director and committee member Mike Ostrowski.

Before the pandemic, high school football season was set to start Aug. 20.

The Athletic Directors Advisory Committee, which met Wednesday morning, was asked by the Florida High School Athletic Association to choose between three schedule options the FHSAA laid out. The majority of athletic directors selected the latest option, which would allow football and other fall sports to practice starting on Nov. 30, with football games beginning on Dec. 14.

Although eight of the 15 athletic directors on the committee wanted the latest option, known as Option 3, their decision is only a recommendation. The FHSAA Board of Directors will take the recommendation from the ADAC, the sports advisory committees, the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and other committees when it meets to decide the fate of fall sports on Aug. 14, Ostrowski said.

The FHSAA’s Football Advisory Committee met last week and recommended a different proposal, known as Option 1, which would allow high school sports to begin practices on Aug. 24 and start playing games on Sept. 11. Those are the same dates the Board of Directors set at their previous meeting on July 23 before considering more discussion on delaying the season further.

The schedule the majority of the athletic directors favored on Wednesday, Option 3, would reshape high school sports in Florida for the 2020-21 year.

After fall sports, which also include girls volleyball and cross country, began on Dec. 14 under Option 3, the regular season would conclude Jan. 23. After that would be playoffs and eventually the state finals — and the postseason formats could be adjusted.

Option 3 would also delay the start of winter and spring sports and shorten their seasons. Winter sports practices would be delayed until Feb. 15, with a season start date of March 1 and end date of April 3. Spring sports would begin practices on April 26, begin their regular seasons on May 10 and conclude their regular seasons on June 12. The entire sports calendar would wrap up by June 26.

In Option 3, tennis would move to the winter season, while golf and swimming would move to the spring season.

Currently, winter sports begin practices in October or November, and spring sports begin practices in January or February. Games usually start after at least a week of practice.

It’s not known how the dramatic reshaping of the high school schedule would affect college recruiting, since each state could have very different schedules. As of now, there have been no changes the the NCAA’s signing periods, set for December and February.

The members of the ADAC were asked to rank three proposed athletic schedules. Seven ranked Option 1, with an Aug. 24 start date, as their top choice.

Option 1 would allow teams to begin practices on Aug. 24, with the football season beginning on Sept. 11. The regular season would last nine weeks, followed by an altered playoff schedule.

Teams would have to commit to playing in the state series by Oct. 12. After teams commit to the state series or decline to play for a state championship, Class 8A-2A would be redrawn (Class 1A would remain the same). The smallest third of schools by population would go to Class 4A-2A, while the remaining two-thirds would go to Class 8A-5A.

The playoff structure would be significantly changed under Option 1. There would be no district champions for the season, and all teams that declare for the state series would earn a playoff spot. Seeding would be determined by a blind draw on Oct. 26. If there are more than eight teams in a Class 4A-1A region, Week 11 will be a play-in game. If there are more than 16 teams in a Class 8A-5A region, that region would also have play-in games on Week 11.

The Class 4A-1A state championship games would be played Dec. 10-12. The Class 8A-5A state championship games would be played Dec. 17-19.

Option 1 was recommended unanimously by the Football Advisory Committee last month.

There was Option 2, although none of the athletic directors favored it. Option 2 postpones the start of fall practice until after August ends but does not set a definite start date. Under Option 2, the regular season would end on Nov. 28 and there would be no state series. Local or regional tournaments would be permitted after the end of the regular season.

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