The University Interscholastic League (UIL) announced an update that it is “extending its suspension of all UIL sanctioned contests to include all rehearsals, practices and workouts through March 29,” a statement released at 2:30 p.m. Monday says.
The update came after previously shutting down the basketball state championships Thursday evening due to coronavirus concerns.
“To support the health and safety of our students and communities, the University Interscholastic League is suspending all UIL sanctioned contests due to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Texas,” the initial statement from March 13 reads.
If athletic activities are cleared to return on March 30, some sports’ postseason will be adjusted to account for the time missed. The UIL released its updated postseason schedules last Friday along with the previous statement.
Soccer is the most affected, with its timeline getting pushed back around 18 days. Each district must certify its playoff teams by April 11 instead of March 24 to play the bi-district round of the playoffs on April 14 instead of March 27. After that, the area round will be April 18, regional quarterfinals 21, regional semifinals the 24 and 25 and the state tournament running from April 29 to May 2.
The district certifications for golf and tennis were also pushed back to April 14 and 18, respectively, although the rest of their postseason tournament will remain unchanged. Softball and baseball won’t see any changes, with district certification not until May 5.
Track and field is a curious case where the district and area championships could be condensed to one meet with a note to check the track manual.
Junior high sports are to abide by the same restrictions and “once activities resume, UIL will allow for an exception to the school week limitation for varsity district contests in soccer, tennis, softball, and baseball,” the release states, allowing more than one competition per week of school.
All three of Austin County’s UIL representatives, Bellville, Brazos and Sealy, extended last week’s spring break and will not return to school until March 23 at the earliest. The respective head football coaches/athletic directors also offered their thoughts on the situation.
“It's an unknown for a lot of people,” said Sealy Athletic Director Shane Mobley. “It's not only the state basketball tournament, but it's the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, one-act plays, there's so much stuff that's all involved in this.”
“It's about the safety of the people,” Mobley continued, “you look at other countries what they're going through. I know people will have different opinions about what's going on and how this is playing out, but I know the athletic directors that I've talked to, the last thing we want is for our kids to get something that could have been prevented.”
Of course, this prevention is also putting the kibosh on some seniors’ final chances at sports, many with championships on the line.
“Right now, those are all suspended,” said Bellville’s Grady Rowe of winter sports’ postseasons. “We had regional powerlifters that were leaving (Friday) afternoon and they're postponed right now. Again, it's everybody siding on the side of safety and it's better to be safe than sorry I think.”
“There's no words, you hurt for those kids,” Brazos coach Ryan Roecker said of the class of 2020. “You don't know what the parameters will be if you don't know how quickly this may reopen after the 29th but you hope some way, in some form or fashion, that they would be allowed to play out a championship.”
Rowe and Roecker both agreed that it’s hard to compare this situation to any others previously seen.
“Nothing I can think of,” Rowe said. “The flood was different, that was devastation in a different way. You really have a little uncharted territory right here and we've got to do what's best for everyone.”
“There's nothing to compare to,” Roecker said. “You sit there and watch the shock and awe of the week unfolding as far as NBA canceling their season (along with other) professional sports. You watch the NCAA, and then (Thursday) you watch the state basketball tournament get canceled which was only inevitable. We figured something was gonna happen with us educationally and athletically.”
“Like I said,” Roecker continued, “you always want to err on the side of your athletes. This is what is needed to make sure that we stay healthy and to protect our kids and it’s what we need to do.”