WIAA zaps spring sports seasons, playoffs

The Brillion News

STEVENS POINT – The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control voted to cancel 2020 spring sports regular-season competitions and the Tournament Series while allowing individual, virtual spring sports coaching to continue until the final day of the 2020 season, which is the final day of the State Tournament for the respective sports.

The cancellation of spring competitions and State Tournaments mirrors Governor Tony Evers’ orders in response to the COVID-19 disease.

On April 16, the state’s Safer-at-Home order was extended until May 26, with all public and private K-12 schools closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year (June 30). That also prohibits all school extracurricular and athletic activities.

The legality of that order, though, is under channege from the state legislature, which has filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

The WIIAA Board also voted to extend the unrestricted summertime coaching contact opportunities for spring sports only. This action will permit school teams that include the current year’s seniors to assemble and conduct practices and competitions for up to 30 days, provided restrictions on assembling in groups are removed, until the start of a student-athlete’s fall sport season.

The extension of the summertime coaching contact is only available to students who are currently enrolled in ninth through 12th grades during the 2020 spring seasons.

All sports’ acclimatization regulations remain unchanged prior to the first competition as does the pitch count during the 30-day window. In addition, a day of rest after six consecutive contact days remains unchanged, and all traditional nonschool participation can be conducted simultaneously during the summertime, provided restrictions on assembling in groups are removed.

Furthermore, if schools engage in competitions, the required number of WIAA licensed officials also remains unchanged.

All spring sports competitions scheduled during the expansion of unrestricted summertime provisions will require approval from district administrators of all competing schools. In addition, spring sports teams assembling without the current year’s seniors participating shall be limited to five days of unrestricted summertime contact, which is the same as fall and winter sports.

“We want to extend our sincere empathy and regrets to all the student-athletes and coaches that have worked hard in anticipation of participating in sports this spring, particularly the seniors,” WIAA Executive Director Dave Anderson said.  “The Board of Control and Executive Staff have been resolute in their hopes to preserve some chance to play one more time, and it is our hope that by providing the extended unrestricted days, we can provide some opportunities and closure for spring sport student-athletes.”

The cancellation of all extracurricular activities prohibits all school or coach involvement with training, practices, scrimmages and contests until, at the earliest July 1, unless restrictions are removed prior to that time.  Therefore, coaches may not bring students together or encourage students to assemble for extracurricular purposes, which includes competitions, practices and all instructional and training until the restrictions on assembling in groups are removed.

All coaches are encouraged to continue to connect with their student-athletes with virtual organizational team meetings and team building exercises by video or messaging as approved by school administration to provide support for athletes. Coaches can provide general information to their athletes virtually, who may voluntarily review the suggestions. However, coaches are prohibited from mandating or instructing athletes out of season during this period.

Spring sports coaches may continue to provide individual virtual instruction for student-athletes with training, conditioning and skill development until the end of the respective spring sports season, which is the final day of the scheduled 2020 State Tournament for the respective sport.

Fall and winter sports coaches’ contact may begin July 1–provided restrictions on assembling in groups are removed­–and will follow the existing prescribed summertime dates and unrestricted contact regulations with a maximum of five days of contact.

In other Board action, it approved the new and renewal cooperative team arrangements for 2020-21 and 2021-22, the appointments to the officials advisory committee for 2020-21, and to discontinue the printing of the Bulletin. The publication will be published and available exclusively online beginning with the May, 2020 issue.

The Executive Staff reported to the Board the cancellation of the annual Scholar-Athlete Ceremony scheduled for May 3.

Other information shared with the Board included the cancellation of NFHS Summer Meeting and the plan to waive the late fees for officials licensing this year.

Other matters

The Board was also informed of the results for the 2020-21 Board of Control elections. Mike Beighley, superintendent at Whitehall and former Board of Control member from 2011-17 and president in 2014-15, was elected as the District 1 representative. Dave Steavpack, director of athletics at Manitowoc Lincoln, was re-elected for a second term in District 4, and Karl Morrin, assistant superintendent and director of pupil services at Menominee Indian, was elected to a three-year term as the ethnic at-large representative on the Board. Elected members of the Board of Control serve a three-year term.

In the 2020-21 Advisory Council elections, Brian Schlei, assistant principal and athletic director at Waukesha North, was re-elected for a second term on the Council as a large school representative.

Craig Olson, superintendent at Hayward, was elected to his first term as a medium school representative on the Council. Terry Slack, district administrator at Wisconsin Dells, was re-elected for his second term as a medium school representative.

Kyle Luedtke, superintendent at Sevastopol, returns to the Council for a three-year term representing small schools after serving from 2016-19, and Cory Kulig, superintendent at Eleva-Strum, was elected to serve one-year to complete the term of James Erickson, who is retiring from his position as superintendent at Webster.

Eric Coleman, student specialist in Milwaukee and current Board of Control member completing his second term on the Board, was elected as the ethnic at-large representative on the Council. Coleman served as Board president in 2018-19, and he returns to the Council after serving as the ethnic at-large representative from 2008-14. Ted Knutson was elected to a one-year term as the non-public school representative to complete the position currently held by Mark Gobler, who will be retiring as president at Regis. Knutson previously served on the Board of Control from 2012-2019 and on the Advisory Council from 2009-12.

The Board received an update on the latest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic from Dr. Kevin Walter, who is the Director of Pediatric and Adolescent Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, associate professor at Wisconsin Medical College, and chair of the Sports Medical Advisory Committee. Liaison reports were presented by Mike Thompson of the Department of Public Instruction, John Ashley of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and Nathan DeLany of the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association.

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