The N.C. High School Athletic Association on Sept. 8 updated its guidelines for the planned return of prep athletic practices and events in 2020-21.
Practice workouts and conditioning remain limited to no more than 90 minutes in phase two of the NCHSAA’s three-phase plan for the return of high school sports. Phase two guidelines were initiated on Aug. 3.
Gatherings in outside venues are limited to no more than 50 persons and gatherings in indoor venues are limited to no more than 25 persons. Those numbers include coaches, managers, trainers and others participating in practices.
Modified events, playoffs
The NCHSAA increased the number of events in swimming, cross-country and track and field from 10 to 14.
The state cheerleading invitational moved from May 1, 2021, to May 22, 2021.
All team sport playoffs will be 32-team brackets with two or three rounds followed by regional and state matchups. Predetermined brackets will be used for the playoffs in an effort to minimize travel for qualifying teams.
Football will be subdivided into two 16-team brackets for each classification. Football playoff games start on April 16 and conclude with state title games on May 8.
Teams qualify into the playoffs based on the number of conference teams participating in the sport. One automatic berth goes to conferences with one to six teams; two berths are awarded for seven to eight teams; and three berths are set for nine or more teams.
Playoff berths for split conferences like the Mountain Valley 1A/2A are based on the distribution of the split.
Conference winning percentage will determine wildcard spots for teams and will utilize previous methods that have been in place for wrestling and tennis, i.e. the no “leap-frogging” rule.
The first state championships, for cross-country and volleyball, are slated for Jan. 23. Basketball state finals are March 6. The academic year’s last state finals are June 25-26 for baseball, girls tennis, track and field and wrestling.