FHSAA board votes to delay fall practices until Aug. 24

The Florida High School Athletic Association’s board of directors voted to postpone the start of practices in fall sports until Aug. 24. 

The motion made by Citrus County board member Doug Dodd allows FHSAA executive director George Tomyn to work with the Sports Medical Advisory Committee and other advisory boards to prepare recommendations for the start of fall sports at an  in-person meeting that will be held no later than Aug. 17. 

Athletic programs in cross country, football, golf, swimming and volleyball can continue to go through summer conditioning. 

The vote comes three days after the FHSAA’s board voted to maintain the current sports calendar with the first allowable day of practices on July 27 and for schools to declare their state series intention by a certain date. Schools that decided not to participate in the FHSAA playoffs could have played regular season games through the end of the state series events on Dec. 12.

Though the date remained the same, nearly every area county has decided to wait before conducting their first official practices in cross country, football, golf and swimming. 

FHSAA board president Lauren Otero, who also serves as Plant’s athletic director, said 359 of 396 public schools who responded to her own survey had already pushed back their start date. Only 37 public schools planned on practicing this coming Monday. 

All four area counties have delayed practices. Pinellas County has decided not to start on July 27 but has not given a specific date when sports will begin. Hillsborough County pushed the start back to Aug. 10.  Pasco County decided not to go until Sept. 7. And Hernando has postponed practices indefinitely. 

The board meeting started with Chris Patricca, a board member from Lee County, making a motion that the FHSAA follow SMAC recommendations.

Her motion, under the guidance of SMAC, was to delay football and volleyball until two-to-three days after the start of in-person classes, and until there was less than a five percent COVID-19 positivity rate for 28 days. Only one county in the state currently fits that criteria for COVID cases. 

That motion was denied.