IHSAA and IGHSAU release fall sports guidelines


With schools making plans to return to in-person learning this fall, the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) have been making preparations for 2020 fall football, cross country and volleyball.

Last week, several guidelines were released involving each fall sport. They can be viewed at each athletic union’s website. Some of the included guidelines are below:


The regular season has been cut from nine to seven games, and all schools will make the playoffs.

* Regular season: A seven-week regular season will be conducted. Teams will have the option of scheduling five, six, or seven games within those seven weeks.

* Postseason: All teams in all classes will qualify for the postseason. Brackets will consist of six rounds for each classification. The IHSAA will determine postseason pairings with geography, quality, and team availability as primary considerations. This is intended to be a one-time measure for postseason formatting.

* Optional dates: Week 1 and Week 2 will be optional game dates. Opponents, locations, and participation may be determined by member schools in 11-player football.

* Missing games: Due to the potential of positive COVID-19 cases forcing players and teams to miss games in the 2020 regular season, the revised plan does not penalize teams with a loss or forfeit due to state, county, or local health department determinations. A missed game due to COVID-19 will be considered a “no contest” and will not be made up. Teams may work with the IHSAA and new possible opponents should they have open dates due to scheduled opponents missing games.

* The IHSAA will be expanding the team box for the 2020 season to each respective 10-yard lines, providing 30 additional yard for players and personnel to spread out. This adoption is for players only. Coaches are still mandated to be inside the 25-yard lines. Coaches may enter the expanded team box area for supervision purposes only.

* Teams shall NOT exchange handshakes following the contest – teams can acknowledge opponent with other appropriate non-contact measures.

* Mandatory Timeouts: An officials’ timeout will be taken every 4 minutes of game clock time in order for teams to properly sanitize and hydrate during the contest. This timeout is to be two minutes in length. In addition, the intermission between the 1st and 2nd quarter and the 3rd and 4th quarter should also be two minutes in length in order to allow for proper sanitizing and hydration.

* Masks: Masks are encouraged but not required to be worn by players, game officials, chain gangs, ball retrievers, statisticians, managers, athletic trainers and coaches. It is recommended that if worn, players and coaches wear a mask that is a solid color. There is no prohibition on the color of the mask.

* Shields: Plastic shields covering the entire face (unless clear and integrated into the face mask and attached to the helmet) shall not be allowed during the contest.

Mouth Protector: It is recommended that players keep their tooth and mouth protector in their mouths at all times. Each time they touch their tooth and mouth protector, they should sanitize their hands.

* Skin Coverage: Players are encouraged to cover up as much of their bare skin as possible. Using long sleeved dry weave shirts and tights can cover bare skin.

* Spitting: Spitting is to be prohibited.

Cross Country

* No hugging, shaking hands, or fist bumps.

* Cross country meets may consider using staggered, wave or interval starts. Note at the current time the state qualifying meet and state meet will be using the traditional mass start. Consideration should be given to the format of the meet, including having different levels run on different nights.

* Consider widening the starting grids including skipping boxes at the starting line.

* Consider conducting workouts in “pods” of same students always training and rotating together in practice to ensure more limited exposure if someone develops an infection.

* Keep accurate records of those athletes and staff who attend each practice in case contact tracing is needed.

* Cloth face coverings are permitted for students.

* Students should bring their own water bottle.

* Start Protocols: Student-athletes should have individual bags and locations for sweats – no mass piling of team clothing.

* Postseason: Potential options may be considered regarding the state qualifying meets and state meet depending upon the status of COVID-19.


* The IGHSAU strongly encourages all participants and spectators to practice social distancing and to wear face coverings whenever possible.

* Teams are required to bring their own volleyballs to use for warm-ups for away matches. (Volleyballs must be marked to help with identification purposes when traveling with volleyballs.)

* Eliminate spectator seating in the first two rows if possible.

* Avoid playing matches simultaneously on side-by-side courts if possible.

* Teams are not to switch benches between sets. In the event there is a clear and distinct disadvantage, teams may switch sides, observing all social distancing protocols. Officials will determine if a disadvantage is present.

* Bench personnel should observe social distancing as much as possible. Coaches, players and other bench personnel are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings while on the bench.

* Cloth face coverings are permissible.

* Gloves are permissible.

* Long sleeves are permissible.

* Long pants are permissible.

* Consider making each student responsible for their own supplies (water bottle, hand sanitizer, face covering, towel, etc.)

* Avoid playing matches simultaneously on side-by-side courts if possible.

* Postseason – Potential options may be considered regarding the Regional and State Tournament matches depending upon the status of COVID-19.