"We know everyone wants a decision about whether or not fall sports will start on time, but we simply cannot give you that answer at this time" NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker announced Wednesday morning.
Without a clear directive about students returning to classrooms, Tucker said athletics must follow the lead of academics.
"We must allow the Governor to govern. We must allow the Department of Health and Human Services and all of those advisers and the local school officials across the state the opportunity to make the necessary decisions," Tucker said. "if it is unsafe for students to be in school, then certainly the idea is that it would be unsafe for our students to be playing in those athletic venues."
So that's where it stands. Tucker and the NCHSAA have been working constantly to come up with contingency plans for every eventuality but right now it's a holding pattern. Slightly more than 50 percent of schools that responded to an Association survey said they had been moving forward with small informal workouts. Tucker described the feedback she'd received from one coach involved.
"Just the joy that shone on the faces of those young people. They had an opportunity to be in smaller groups, but they were able to be able to play, they were able to see their classmates, their teammates. If we can bring that kind of joy, even for just a short amount of time, then that's what we're in the business for," she quoted.
Relatedly - Tucker said that they'd been told of four positive COVID-19 results among athletes participating in summer workouts, but they appeared unrelated to the workouts themselves. One was the result of a trip to Myrtle Beach.
Tucker is well aware that football pays the bills in most schools, so that's where the majority of the focus is right now publicly. Any notion of flipping around traditional calendars though and moving it to the spring would require every sport's agreement.
"We know that they are saying there's going to be another spike. So, what do we do if we go ahead and bring the spring sport athletes on board to try to play in the fall, and then we shut them down again?" she said.
Back to the bottom line. If -- big if -- football is feasible come fall, just playing isn't the entire goal. They're hoping for butts in the seats as well.
"At the least, we could have fans that would be at least half of the capacity of the stadium so that they could spread out and social distance."
In the meantime, in this uncertainty, Tucker leaned on the words of former N.C. State coaching great Kay Yow for her message to high school athletes.
"Life is a journey. It's not a destination. Just enjoy this moment but do that knowing that there is more to come," she said.
Tucker added that the NCHSAA applied for and received a PPP loan from the federal government. It's money that it used to avoid any layoffs and, in her words, continue to provide services to their member schools at the level they want and expect. They hope that the loan will be forgiven.