The TSSAA tried to save the high school state basketball tournaments and Spring Fling for as long as possible.
Instead of immediately canceling both events amid the COVID-19 pandemic, TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress left the door open for games to resume in early or mid-May.
Higher powers have ended those tentative plans. Gov. Bill Lee announced last Wednesday afternoon that schools should stay closed for the rest of the 2019-20 academic year.
“In order to keep every Tennessean safe during this pandemic, I am recommending that schools remain closed through the end of this school year,” Lee said in a tweet. “We’re working with [the Tennessee Department of Education] and local leaders to ensure there is flexibility for districts to complete critical year-end activities.”
The TSSAA followed with a statement officially canceling its remaining 2019-20 events, including the state basketball tournaments and Spring Fling.
“This is an unprecedented time across our state and country, and we do not make this decision lightly,” the release said. “We thank all of the participants, their coaches, administrators, parents and everyone else who has dedicated a tremendous amount of time, passion and effort to high school athletics, especially these affected events.”
In a TSSAA Board of Control conference call March 17, Childress stopped short of canceling the state basketball tournaments and Spring Fling, opting to wait for more information before making an official decision.
“I don’t think we’re at that point,” Childress said at the time. “This is such an unknown that we’re not at the point where we say we’re going to give up on [the postseason tournaments] …even if we’re creating a pipe dream.
“It at least lets those student athletes know that we didn’t give up. We tried everything that we could.”
The girls state basketball tournament was in progress when the TSSAA halted action on March 12. The boys state basketball tournaments never tipped off, and spring sports teams were less than two weeks into their respective regular seasons.
The cancellation of Spring Fling effectively ends the baseball, boys soccer, softball, tennis and track and field seasons and the careers of all senior spring sports athletes.
“To our senior participants – we thank you for everything you have done for your schools and communities and wish you the very best in your bright futures,” the TSSAA said. “This is difficult, but the lessons you’ve learned and friendships you’ve made through high school activities will last your lifetime.”
The TSSAA said it would provide member schools with information regarding summer athletic activities soon.