COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Friday, the Ohio High School Athletic Association released its plan for a fall football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic which calls for a shortened season and opt-outs for schools under the condition that Gov. Mike DeWine approves the sport to continue this year.
If DeWine allows football to move forward, the 2020 football season in Ohio will consist of a six-game regular season beginning on Aug. 24 and will make all teams eligible for the playoffs, which would begin on Oct. 9.
Schools would be able to keep their first six previously scheduled games under that plan, but all regular season contracts are now voidable by either school, considering conferences may redo league schedules to fit into the first six weeks, OHSAA said.
New regions would be determined in September and the number of playoff rounds would be dependent upon the number of schools entering the playoffs in each division, OHSAA’s plan states.
Since the playoffs are scheduled in October, schools that have currently put their football seasons on hold due to COVID-19 concerns would be able to begin their season in September and compete in the playoffs, OHSAA said.
Rather than use the computer ratings system, coaches in each region would seed all the playoff teams to form a bracket, similar to other OHSAA sports. The higher seeded teams would then host the games in each round of the semifinals and possible finals, according to OSHAA’s plan.
Schools that are eliminated from the OHSAA playoffs or that choose not to enter the playoffs will have the option to schedule additional regular season games through Nov. 14, for a maximum of 10 regular season games.
Ohio schools have the option to withdraw from the playoffs without a penalty until Sept. 24.
Under OHSAA's plan, state finals would end no later than Nov. 21.
The plan was voted on by the OHSAA Board of Directors and was approved by a 9-0 vote.
In a recent membership survey conducted by the OHSAA, 60% of the nearly 1,500 respondents favored either reducing the season and maintaining full tournaments or maintaining both the regular season and the tournaments.
There has yet to be a decision made about spectators, but OHSAA said it believes parents should be permitted to attend games.
“To both ensure we can offer students the opportunity to participate in education-based athletes but do so with their best interests in mind, we believe this modified plan offers a positive solution by addressing many of the concerns of our member schools,” said Jeff Cassella, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and athletic administrator at Mentor High School. “Those that are able to start their seasons on time will be able to do so. Those that are starting later can still have a season. Add in the option of all schools entering the playoffs and the possibility of schools still being able to play 10 regular season contests, and this plan is helpful to virtually all of our schools.”