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WIAA delays start of fall sports season

Football, boys’ soccer and volleyball to start Sept. 7, Aug. 17 start for the rest

July 28, 2020

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control considered a number of season schedule models and resolved to maintain fall interscholastic opportunities with a delayed start, as well as an alternate opportunity for schools unable to start and administer the traditional fall season, at its virtual special meeting Thursday, July 23.

In a 8-3 decision, the board approved conducting the fall sports season with a delayed start. The sports of girls’ golf, girls’ tennis, girls’ swimming and diving, and cross country will be permitted to begin practice with prescribed acclimatization protocol Monday, Aug. 17. The earliest practice date for the sports of football, boys’ soccer, and volleyball is Monday, Sept. 7.

“Because of the Board’s action, while they can’t make any guarantees that things will work out as we plan them, they have given us the opportunity to at least hope and work in that direction,” WIAA executive director Dave Anderson said. “We understand this decision will make some happy and others disappointed, but we will do our best to deliver to our membership what they have directed us to do.”

The earliest dates for the first competitions are Aug. 20 for girls’ golf, Aug. 21 for girls’ tennis, Aug. 25 for cross country, and girls’ swimming and diving. The earliest permissible date for the first boys’ soccer and volleyball contests are Sept. 15, and the first possible football game may be scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 23, if the first practice is conducted on Sept. 7.

The end of the fall sports seasons remained unchanged, but the board indicated the season may or may not culminate with a traditional tournament series. The length and beginning of the tournament series will be determined in the coming days. In addition, the winter and spring season calendars were not altered.

Great Northern Conference commissioner Scott Winch, who represents the north central part of the state on the Board of Control, made the motion for the plan that was eventually approved. An amendment that would have moved the practice start date for football, boys’ soccer and volleyball to Aug. 24 failed on a 9-2 vote.

Another component of the board’s decision provides schools, which are unable to start fall sports in 2020, an opportunity in the spring to conduct their fall seasons. The board directed the executive staff to develop details and calendars for an alternative three-sport season in the second semester of the 2020-21 school year to be presented at a later date. The alternate three-sport season plan was derived from a proposal submitted to the WIAA executive staff by school district administrators from the southwest area of the state. 

The board also approved an executive office social media initiative to promote and encourage safe practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The #TeamUpToBeatCOVID campaign will launch this week in efforts to enhance the likelihood of returning to school and school activities by following safe practices. The WIAA encourages school and public involvement and interaction in the campaign on all Facebook, Instagram and Twitter platforms.

The board was informed of a staff initiative to enhance the “Games Wanted” form on the WIAA website to provide schools with a convenient, comprehensive and user-friendly method of locating opponents and dates available due to postponements and cancellations.

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