MURRAY — In the highly anticipated KHSAA Board of Control meeting yesterday, athletics directors and media members from around the state tuned in to the live stream to hear the fate of fall sports.
The final verdict was to delay and play. All fall sports, except for golf, were given a start date for practices of Aug. 24, and a competition start date of Sept. 7. Golf will begin as early as July 31.
In the first week of practice, teams will remain limited to seven and a half hours, and in football, be limited to helmet-only participation. The following week would allow for full pads for football practice and that would be left to the discretion of the district and coaches. The second week will also be the start of full week practices.
Another motion brought up by the board in regard to football was roster size for game nights. The final vote capped the number of players to 60 in uniform on game night. This shouldn’t have any effect on either Murray or Calloway County.
With the delay to the start of the seasons, the Crosstown Classic in football has been removed from the schedule for the time being. It was scheduled to take place in week two of the season on Aug. 28, but with the removal of the first three weeks of competition, the game is in limbo. There’s a chance the game could be rescheduled for the final week of the regular season, as the season has been extended by one week.
“It is something that we will look at I’m sure,” Calloway County Athletic Director Greg Butler said. “We have to do what is best for everyone. At this point, I just hope that we get to that point without another shutdown.”
Calloway was set to host the game this year and the financial benefit of the game has a large impact on the athletics every year.
As the meeting began, KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett presented the board with three options moving forward with fall sports and none of them included starting on time. From the beginning, a delay to the start of fall sports was clear.
“There are a myriad of ways to look at our sports seasons and what might go on during this situation, but it basically comes down to three options,” Tackett said. “I don’t think there is a lot of wisdom in staying the course on our current published dates, given what’s going on within the state. So, I deliberately, as we planned this, discussed with Chairman (Darrell) Billings and others, and I don’t know if resting on our regional dates is a good option. The first option that I’ve thrown out is to delay the start of the fall with the exception of golf, but to leave fall sports in the fall.”
The majority of board members were adamant that the fall season remains in the fall and supported option one.
Option two involved switching the fall sports to the spring, except for golf and field hockey. While option three would sandwich fall sports between the winter and spring.
While the final decision was to delay and play fall sports in the fall, the board has another meeting scheduled four days prior to the start of practices.
The next meeting of the KHSAA Board of Control is set for Aug. 20.
“We have to be ready to pivot at a moment’s notice,” Tackett said. “We have to be flexible.”
Tackett also reiterated the idea that the other options for the fall sports will still be available if needed.
“It’s good to know this (option) is out there if something happens down the road where we can’t play fall (sports) in the fall,” Tackett said. “You could always look at option three later.”
Several local coaches sounded supportive of the KHSAA decision and hopeful that a season would take place this fall.
“I’m just happy that we are able to play as of now, and if that means we have to start later in order to be able to play then I’m fine with it,” Calloway County boys soccer head coach Evan Pierce said. “I’m happy for my players, that all of the hard work that they have put in over the summer hasn’t been for nothing, and I’m relieved for my seniors to know that as of now they will have the opportunity to play their final year. The Sept. 8 start is causing us to miss 11 games, so we will have to work to try to reschedule as many of those as we can until we hit the 16-game limit.”
The 16-game limit was another part of the conversation of the meeting. In the end, soccer was limited to a 16-game regular season, volleyball 28 games, field hockey 19 and cross country 11 meets. Football was discussed later and limited to nine games.
For soccer, this limit will likely cause teams within the district to only play once in the regular season.
“We’re still looking into how much it will affect us,” Murray High girls soccer head coach Shauna Traylor said. “We will probably just play our district opponents once, rather than twice, which will be different going into the postseason.”
The rescheduling issues will affect some teams more than others. One dissenting opinion came from Murray High boys soccer coach Jared Rosa because of this exact issue.
“My thought is that you could have been fine to wait two weeks from now and opened up unlimited practices the week of Aug. 10 and start games on Aug. 17,” Rosa said. “Now everyone is scrambling to reschedule. Our schedule will have to change because we were on the road a lot during the later part of our schedule. I am still super excited that we have a plan at least.”
Ultimately, the decision provided athletes and coaches in the area a little bit of hope.
“I think it’s an extremely fair and well thought out decision,” Calloway County head football coach Chris Champion said. “Their conversations echoed the exact same concerns and questions that myself and many area head coaches have had. We will absolutely be ready to play for our first game. I’m sure the first game or two will be ugly, but I think I can speak for our entire program that we are just grateful to finally see a little light at the end of the tunnel.”