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 that 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.
The TSSAA plans to finish the girls quarterfinal round of the Blue Cross Basketball Championships at MTSU then "make a determination about how the rest of the tournament will proceed."
Middle Tennessee State University released a statement Wednesday detailing contingency plans they are putting in place out of concern for COVID-19. That includes extending spring break through March 22nd and working toward online classes after that.
"While our discussions with the professionals over the past days and weeks resulted in advice to continue with our games, this has become a very fluid situation," said Bernard Childress, TSSAA Executive Director.
"The university is permitting the girls' state basketball tournament to continue," added Childress. "Our plan at the moment is to finish the quarterfinal round. We will be continuing to review all available information tonight and tomorrow so that we can make a determination about how the rest of the tournament will proceed."
TSSAA staff will be in communication with the administrators of the impacted schools and teams regarding any potential changes to the tournament schedule, and any necessary public announcements will be distributed to the media and published on TSSAA.org.