Days after laying out a plan for fall sports to get started in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission released two sets of guideline modifications to carry all sports through the season.
Executive Director Bernie Dolan announced Friday that practice for all fall sports — high school and middle school — will belatedly begin Aug. 17. Golf matches can begin Aug. 24; soccer, cross country, cheer and volleyball can begin competing Sept. 2; and the first football games can be played Thursday, Sept. 3.
Middle school athletic contests can begin on Sept. 7.
Of note for high school football in the new guidelines announced Monday, two requirements regarding playoff eligibility have been waived for 2020 only. Teams will not be required to play eight regular season games, and teams do not have to play six teams in their own classification.
Schedules had already been finalized before Friday's announcement, which canceled all Week 1 games scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 27-28. That has sent teams scrambling to try to schedule a new 10th game.
Also regarding football, flex days can only be used with approval from each school's principal and in accordance to any limitation set forth in Phase III of the SSAC's summer workout plan.
Five requirements were listed for football.
The coaching box, which currently extends to each 25-yard line, will be increased to each 15-yard line. The sidelines will be limited to essential personnel, such as coaches, trainers and managers.
Timeouts and the length of time between quarters will be extended to two minutes.
Social distancing announcements are to be made over the public address system throughout the game.
The final requirement for football is that all water should be provided in individual containers and not shared by any means. This is the case for all sports, not just football.
The rest of the release included several guidelines that overlap those spelled out in guidelines for all sports, in addition to others that are sport-specific. For instance, volleyball teams are required to use the same bench instead of having changeovers.
The complete lists can be found at wvssac.org or on the SSAC Facebook and Twitter accounts.
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