RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- High school sports have been postponed in North Carolina because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
North Carolina High School Athletics Association (NCHSAA) announced a new athletics calendar Wednesday afternoon.
NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker presented the calendar after spending time explaining the thought process that went into creating the calendar.
"We know that education-based athletics has great benefits for young people across our state," Tucker said.
She went on to describe the importance of participating in sports while also keeping students and coaches safe.
The first sports that will be allowed to practice are cross-country and volleyball. Those sports can begin practice November 4. Their first competitions will happen November 16.
Football will not begin until February 8, with the first games taking place February 26. Basketball season starts with games January 4.
Indoor track has been eliminated for the 2020-21 school year.
The full sports calendar can be viewed below:
That calendar, of course, remains tentative. Tucker said the proposed start dates remain dependent on COVID-19 conditions improving in North Carolina.
"A few weeks ago I said we will play again. It is with that same spirit that we present this calendar. " NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker
Dr. Josh Bloom of the NCHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee said research has shown that it is critically important for sports to continue.
"While there are risks...it has also become very clear that there are significant negative consequences for not providing (sports)," Bloom said.
Baseball, tennis, track and field and wrestling will close out the year with final contests June 11. Every member school was given the opportunity to fill out a survey stating its opinion relative to playing sports in the fall or to play later in the year.
Bloom said research has shown that student-athletes deprived of sports could experience depression and anxiety.
"We want our young people to be able to play, but for sure we want them to play in a way that is safe and secure," Tucker said.
With that in mind, Tucker said there are many more details to still work out.
"There is still much work to be done in regard to playoff formats, COVID-19 related rules modifications for numerous sports, securing potential playoff facilities and providing the safest possible regular-season opportunities for student-athletes," Tucker said. "If we want high school sports to return to normal, whatever that looks like, we all have to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19."
This adds a new layer for top football prospects who will now have to choose whether to graduate early and move on to college or stay and play their senior seasons in February.