The winding road to some form of a fall sports season in Ohio took another turn Friday, with the Ohio High School Athletic Association announcing an adjustment to the 2020 football season if games are approved by the Governor and Ohio Department of Health.
Under the new proposal, which was approved by the OHSAA Board of Directors by a 9-0 vote, schools will be able to play a six-game regular season starting the week of Aug. 24 followed by the playoffs, which each and every team in the state will be eligible for. The postseason would start Oct. 9.
“To both ensure we can offer students the opportunity to participate in education-based athletics, but do so with their best interests in mind, we believe this modified plan offers a positive solution by addressing many of the concerns of our member schools,” said Jeff Cassella, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and athletic administrator at Mentor High School. “Those that are able to start their seasons on time will be able to do so. Those that are starting later can still have a season. Add in the option of all schools entering the playoffs and the possibility of schools still being able to play 10 regular season contests, and this plan is helpful to virtually all of our schools.”
It’s a win-win situation for all schools, the OHSAA said, since it won’t matter how many games each team plays prior to the playoffs. Instead of the normal computer rankings system, the coaches in each region will conduct a tournament seed meeting the week of Sept. 28 to form a regional bracket.
Schools can keep their first six games if they want, but all regular-season football contracts are now voidable by either school, especially if conferences decide to redo their league schedules to fit into the first six weeks.
Additionally, the OHSAA will determine new playoff regions in September and schools that are eliminated from the playoffs may continue to schedule regular-season games until Nov. 14.
The changes stemmed, for the most part, from a couple things: feedback from Gov. Mike DeWine and member schools’ superintendents and athletic administrators.
According to Friday’s press release from the OHSAA, the Governor’s Office recommended shortening the season due to concerns that COVID-19 cases could spike when the weather gets cooler.
In addition, according to a recent OHSAA membership survey sent to member schools’ superintendents, principals and athletic administrators, nearly 60 percent (890 of 1,498 respondents) favored either reducing the regular season and maintaining full OHSAA tournaments or maintaining the full regular season and a full tournament slate.
A decision on spectators at contact sports has not yet been made.