High school sports in North Carolina won't begin official practices until Nov. 4 and competitions until Nov. 16, according to the NCHSAA's new 2020-21 athletics calendar announced Wednesday by comissioner Que Tucker.
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High school sports in North Carolina won't begin official practices until Nov. 4 and competitions until Nov. 16, according to the NCHSAA's new 2020-21 athletics calendar announced Wednesday by commissioner Que Tucker.
The new calendar, approved by the NCHSAA Board of Directors last night, also moved the first football practices to Feb. 8, 2021, and first football games to Feb. 26, 2021. Football teams can play seven total regular-season games, and one game a week, through April 9.
Men’s and women’s basketball will first practice Dec. 7 and play games from Jan. 4 to Feb. 19, with a 14-game cap; cross country and volleyball will be the first two sports to resume practices and games in November. Swimming and diving, which practices Nov. 23 and start meets Dec. 7, is the only other sanctioned sport with competition scheduled in 2020. Here’s the full calendar:
Tucker later said in a news conference the calendar does not include playoffs, which the NCHSAA hopes to provide for all sport as per usual. Those dates are to be determined.
“We recognize that this is a lot of information to digest and drastically different from the way the sport calendar has been aligned for years in North Carolina," Tucker said. "However, as we mentioned many weeks ago, “We will play again.” In that mantra we believe, and it is in that spirit that we present this calendar.”
She added that “all proposed dates are dependent on COVID-19 conditions improving” across the state, but the board still saw the calendar as “a framework we believe maximizes the opportunities for students in our membership to participate in athletics at some point during this school year.”
The calendar overhaul came a week after the NCHSAA initially delayed the start of the fall sports season until at least mid-September, in reaction to Gov. Roy Cooper’s extension of Phase Two in the state through at least Friday, Sept. 11. In normal years, official fall sport tryouts and practices begin on Aug. 1.
The NCHSAA has allowed its member schools to work out under comprehensive Phase One safety guidelines since June 15 at the discretion of their local education agencies, or LEAs. On Aug. 3, the NCHSAA allowed schools to move into somewhat less restrictive Phase Two workouts.
Tucker said Wednesday the NCHSAA will continue to allow schools to work out under Phase Two guidelines with one tweak — access to locker rooms and weight rooms, previously banned from use under Phase One and Two, will be governed by each LEA.
Both of those decisions were approved by the NCHSAA Board of Directors on Tuesday night along with the new calendar. The board also kept in place a dead period for the first five “student days” of the school year so athletes can focus on academics. For most schools, that dead period would run Aug. 17 to 21.