With concern over COVID-19 spreading, the University Interscholastic League is suspending all contests under its umbrella effective March 16-29.

While the league is suspending events, it says practices are permitted at the discretion of local school districts.

Most school districts in the Houston area and a growing number of districts throughout the state, however, have announced closures for the next week, which includes no practices or use of school facilities.

“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 a 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’s halt affects numerous high schools sports currently in season. High school baseball and softball teams are still in the early portion of the schedule, although many softball teams have begun district play.

It’s early in the year for track and field athletes as well and they’ve lost other opportunities to compete in meets this spring like the Texas Relays, which has been canceled.

High school soccer teams might be most affected. Many regular-season finales were slated for next week and the bi-district playoffs were scheduled for March 26-28.

The Palestine Wildcats had three games remaining on their district schedule, while the Ladycats had two. Madisonville had closed their game schedule earlier today and postponed their game until further notice.

The Westwood Panthers played their last home game Tuesady, but was slated to play at Crockett Tuesday, as was the Lady Panthers.

The soccer bi-district playoffs have been pushed back to April 14 with district certification (final day of regular season) on April 11.

The state championships for soccer are now April 29-May 2.

This is seemingly the last major steps in the Texas high school athletics arena’s response to the coronavirus.

The UIL originally had plans to continue its state boys basketball tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio this weekend before Thursday morning’s announcement it would be played in front of limited attendance and the switch to postponing the tournament completely later that afternoon.

UIL deputy director Jamey Harrison told media members on Thursday it is the league’s full intention to finish the state boys basketball tournament at a later date.

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