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UPDATED: TSSAA state tournaments now postponed

Staff • Updated Mar 12, 2020 at 9:26 PM

At 8:32 p.m., Thursday, the TSSAA issued an update in the ever-evolving response to COVID-19.

“Following the conclusion of the girls’ state basketball tournament quarterfinal round today (Thursday), we are suspending the remainder of the girls’ state tournament and next week’s boys’ state tournament. Whether we will be able to reschedule these events will depend on the length of the suspension and the availability of facilities. We intended to conduct the tournaments with restricted attendance as we announced earlier. However, today has seen the suspension or cancellation of championship events by the NCAA and multiple collegiate conferences including the SEC tournament that was being played nearby; the suspension of regular season play in the NBA and the NHL; the closure of university campuses and of several Tennessee public school systems; and the suspension or cancellation of high school championships in multiple other states.

“COVID-19 is a public health threat, a threat to our student-athletes and our school communities. With the actions being taken all around us, including the action of our host university MTSU in sending all students away from campus, we believe it would be irresponsible and contrary to the public interest for us to continue our tournaments at this time and risk contributing to the spread of the virus,” the statement reads.

“We will provide further updates as this pandemic evolves, including updates on whether we will be able to reschedule these tournaments.”

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Like many other athletic associations and leagues throughout the country, TSSAA has decided that the health and safety of our student-athletes and spectators alike require that we limit fan attendance at our girls’ and boys’ state basketball championships.

Beginning with the Friday, March 13, session, attendance at the remainder of the girls’ state tournament and throughout the boys’ state tournament will be limited to the team party (23-person maximum including varsity players, coaches, and team support personnel), their immediate families, and school administrators of the qualifying schools. Immediate family includes parents, stepparents, guardians, siblings, other members living in the athlete’s household, and grandparents. School administrators will be required to provide a list of those persons meeting the qualifications for entry. School administrators will be at the entrance of each venue to identify and grant entry to those persons on the list. All those entering the venue will be required to obtain a new ticket.

Anyone not on the approved list will not be allowed entry, even if the individual has a previously purchased ticket or pass. This restriction also includes non-varsity participants who are not in the 23-person team party, cheerleaders, mascots and pep bands. With the exception of coaches, all other attendees may remain only for games in the class in which their team is participating.

Members of the media with TSSAA-issued credentials will be allowed entry.

Upon entry, spectators are urged to take advantage of the available seating and not gather in crowds. Elderly individuals and those who suffer from chronic illness are at higher risk for more severe symptoms if they contract the virus and should consider this fact when deciding whether to attend.

In making these decisions, we have consulted with the CDC as well as the Tennessee Department of Health, we have reached out to independent experts, and we have conferred with our sister high school associations in other states. We have also observed what other organizations like the NCAA, the SEC and the NBA have done in response to this worldwide health concern. The Tennessee Department of Health and an independent expert in infectious diseases have confirmed the limitations we have developed are in line with current guidelines and best practices.

We understand and regret the hardship these limitations will create for many. However, the health and safety of our student-athletes is paramount. We will continue to monitor the situation, and we are hopeful that additional limitations will not be necessary.

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