UIL

There will be high school athletics this fall in Texas, but they’ll look a little different than ever before.

A much-anticipated update from the University Interscholastic League came down Tuesday morning, and with it, unprecedented changes for the upcoming football and volleyball seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In its statement, which comes as Texas remains a hotbed for COVID-19, the UIL announced that the start of the fall seasons for football and volleyball in Class 6A and 5A will be delayed by nearly five weeks.

Class 4A and below, meanwhile, remain unchanged, and football and volleyball teams are permitted to begin practices on Aug. 3.

Per the statement: “These adjustments reflect the public health situation at this time and the varying numbers of COVID-19 cases across different geographic areas of the state. This plan provides a delay for schools in highly populated metro areas, primarily conferences 5A-6A, given the challenges with COVID-19 those communities are facing, while providing schools in other areas, primarily 1A-4A, an opportunity to start seasons on schedule. Acknowledging the situation is not always clear-cut and that COVID-19 affects every community differently, the plan also allows for local flexibility and encourages districts to plan for possible interruptions in order to complete district seasons.”

The announcement means that football and volleyball teams in the state’s two largest classifications will start practices on Sept. 7, rather than the previous Aug. 3 start date. Volleyball games can start Sept. 14, and football games can begin Sept. 24.

Both sports will have full seasons, the UIL said.

Football playoffs, which still will include four teams from each district, are scheduled to begin Dec. 10-12 and run through the Christmas holidays with the state championships set for January. The exact dates for the state title games are to be determined.

The volleyball state championships are scheduled for Dec. 11-12.

Team tennis and cross-country can begin competing on Sept. 7.

“Our goal in releasing this plan is to provide a path forward for Texas students and schools,” said UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt. “While understanding situations change and there will likely be interruptions that will require flexibility and patience, we are hopeful this plan allows students to participate in the education-based activities they love in a way that prioritizes safety and mitigates risk of COVID-19 spread.”

Also included in the announcement were changes to the basketball season, which will limit teams to 27 games with no showcases or tournaments, including regional tournaments.

No volleyball tournaments are allowed this season, either.