(FOX 9) - High school football and volleyball are coming back to Minnesota this fall after the Minnesota State High School League hosted a virtual special session Monday to vote on the return of fall sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MSHSL Board of Directors called a special meeting for 9 a.m. to decide the fate of fall sports. The vote follows last week’s workshop session in which board members heard from state health officials on the risks of holding a regular football season.
League officials voted 15-3 in favor of a 10-week football season, with practice starting Sept. 28, next Monday, and a six-game regular season that would start Oct. 9. Out of 394 schools that filled out a survey after the football season was initially postponed, 80 percent of teams wanted to play in the fall.
League officials will discuss a playoff format at the Oct. 1 MSHSL board meeting, but said Monday a planned two-week post-season will start Nov. 16 and end Thanksgiving weekend.
League officials say there would probably have to be a localized playoff format. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a full state tournament is unlikely.
There also won’t be more than 250 fans in the stands for any games due to state COVID-19 guidlines, which is a combined total for home and away teams.
MSHSL officials also voted Monday to approve a modified volleyball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
League officials voted 14-4 in favor of starting practices Sept. 28, with several protocols in place. The fall volleyball season will go 11 weeks, with two matches per week and no tournaments, featuring a 14 dual-match schedule. The season will start with 10 days of preseason practice, and the first matches will start Oct. 8.
The matches will be played in empty gyms, as current COVID-19 guidelines don’t allow spectators in school facilities for events like swimming and diving. The players on the court would not be required to wear masks, but any athletes and coaches on the bench would have to.
League officials said volleyball will have a two-week post-season, tentatively planned to start Nov. 30.
The MSHSL also discussed a spring start date of Feb. 15 with one week of practice and an 11-week, 14-match schedule that would end around April 19. In a survey sent out to schools after the postponement of fall sports, 76 percent wanted to play volleyball this fall.
League officials did approve fall training for adapted soccer teams. They can conduct eight practice sessions from Sept. 21 to Oct. 23 with no competitions that will replace the interscholastic competitive 2020 season.The Minnesota State High School League will vote Monday on whether prep football and volleyball can be played this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, MSHSL agreed to push back the football and volleyball seasons to the spring over concerns regarding COVID-19.
However, a number of parents and students have been advocating for the sports to be played this fall. Many are hoping the league will follow the lead set by some college programs. The Big Ten Conference approved a similar reversal last week, bringing back football next month after initially delaying the season until next spring.
MSHSL officials also determined how the playoffs will work for sports that are already in competition.
High school soccer section tournaments will start the week of Oct. 12. Cross country section championships will be the week of Oct. 12, and there won’t be more than four teams on a course at a time. Girls swimming and diving sectionals will be held the week of Oct. 19, with no more than four teams at a site.
The girls tennis section tournaments will start Oct. 5, and they will be team only. There will be no individual section or state tournaments this fall.
League officials did approve fall training for adapted soccer teams, both cognitively and physically impaired. They can conduct eight practice sessions from Sept. 21 to Oct. 23 with no competitions that will replace the interscholastic competitive 2020 season. Both CI and PI soccer are played indoors.