One day after the sports world at large made decisions about future competition in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the University Interscholastic League announced late Friday that it will be suspending all UIL activities through March 29, shutting things down for the next two weeks.
“UIL is trying their best to keep our students and communities safe,” Sherman athletic coordinator J.D. Martinez said. “This is a difficult situation we are all in.”
Many school districts across the state had been announcing they were either extending spring break and/or cancelling extracurricular activities for at least a week but there were different end dates depending on the individual district.
“With some school districts closing and others staying open, the UIL had to do something for the fairness of competition,” Denison athletic director Chad Rogers said. “We’ll be on practice as long as school is open.”
On Thursday, the UIL suspended the rest of the boys basketball state tournament, allowing the Class 1A and 3A semifinals to take place before postponing the 5A semifinals that night and the rest of the tournament through Saturday. The resumption of those games was not addressed in this announcement.
The UIL statement read: “To support the health and safety of our students and communities, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) is suspending all UIL sanctioned contests due to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Texas. Effective March 16, all UIL interscholastic competition is suspended through March 29. Rehearsals and practices may be held at the discretion of the local school district.”
Baseball and softball teams in the area played games on Thursday and were planning to continue competition before weather wiped out much of the action — Sherman and Denison baseball were combining to host the Grayson County Classic while Whitesboro also hosted a tournament and Pottsboro, Collinsville and Tioga softball were slated to play district contests on Friday.
“We are urging our member schools and their communities to stay vigilant and take every possible precaution to remain safe and healthy,” UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt said in the statement. “We understand there is a lot of uncertainty during this unprecedented time. Please know UIL leadership is working diligently to adjust to this rapidly evolving situation and will share updates as soon as possible.”
The UIL said that because this is a fluid situation which has seemingly changed by the hour over the past couple days, it will continue to follow the direction of state and local officials to monitor this situation and will provide additional announcements as needed. Further updates can be found on the UIL website and its social media accounts.
With the potential for the UIL to make this decision and the fact that all of Sherman and Denison’s District 10-5A opponents had already announced they would not allow students to participate in extracurricular activities, the district executive committee was going to meet on Monday to discuss options going forward.
“I don’t think we’ll meet as quick,” Rogers said. “We’ll know more with how to go forward once we get together.”
The soccer season was set to end this coming week with the final two matches, including a season-ending Sherman-Denison contest scheduled for Friday. Both 10-5A sides have their playoff teams set but seeding is still up for grabs and the Sherman boys are currently in third place. Even if the standings were to hold going forward, the first round of the playoffs fell within the UIL window for March 26-28, needing an adjustment.
The Texas Association of Soccer Coaches posted a revised postseason schedule which will allow for district matches to be finished by April 11 before the bi-district round to be played on Tuesday, April 14, with the area round on Friday, April 18.
For softball, Sherman and Denison were scheduled to begin District 10-5A play on Tuesday night while the other four local districts — 9-3A, 10-3A, 12-2A and 13-2A — had already started with some teams having played two district contests.
For baseball, all of the local districts — 10-5A, 9-3A, 10-3A and 11-2A — began district play this past week.
At this point, the lowest number of district games that would be cancelled or needed to be made up would be four.
In regards to the individual spring sports of tennis, golf and track and field, all tournaments and meets leading up to postseason action have essentially been removed from the schedule.
The district meets for golf were originally scheduled to be completed by April 8 with the region tournaments on April 20-23. The district certification could be pushed back with room to spare if needed.
The same would apply for tennis, which has April 14 as the last day for the district tournament before the region tourneys from April 27-30.
Track’s original schedule for district certification was by April 11 with the area meet deadline April 18 and the region meet for the weekend of April 24-25.
The last time the UIL was forced to shut down all of its activities was during the swine flu outbreak in late April of 2009. The decision then was to suspend all competition for two weeks, which altered the first part of the baseball and softball playoffs and eliminated region track meets that forced an extra day to be added to the state meet. The state golf and tennis meets were not changed.