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WIAA approves fall sports season with dramatic changes

For the many student athletes, coaches, parents, school administrators and fans that were holding their collective breath, they can all breathe a sigh of relief after the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Board of Directors approved conducting the 2020 fall sports season following a special business meeting Thursday, July 23.

But there are significant changes and stipulations as well as “unprecedented flexibility”, as the WIAA stated, for the upcoming fall season.

In an 8-3 decision, the Board of Control gave its approval to proceed with this year’s fall sports season with a delayed start. Practice for the sports of girls’ golf, girls’ tennis, girls’ swimming and diving and boys’ and girls’ cross country can begin practices with “prescribed acclimatization protocol” on Monday, August 17. The earliest date of practices for the sports of football, boys’ soccer, and boys’ and girls’ volleyball will be Monday, September 7.

The earliest dates for competition will be August 20 for girls’ golf, August 21 for girls’ tennis, August 25 for cross country and girls’ swimming and diving, September 15 for volleyball and boys’ soccer and Wednesday, September 23 for football.

The Board said that the end of the fall sports seasons will remain unchanged and indicated that the season may or may not culminate with a traditional state tournament series. Another component of the decision provides schools, which are unable to start fall sports in 2020, an opportunity in the spring to conduct their fall seasons.

For area school districts like Boyceville, Colfax, Elk Mound and Glenwood City, this will mean that their respective fall sports schedules will undergo significant changes prior to the start of competitions.

Below is the entire release provided by the WIAA.

Board Provides Unprecedented Flexibility For Fall Sports

STEVENS POINT, Wis. – 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 today.

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 boys and girls 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 boys and girls 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 boys and girls 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.

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.

Eric Russell, superintendent at Baldwin-Woodville, presided over his first meeting as president during the 2020-21 school year. Newly elected Karl Morrin, assistant superintendent at Menominee Indian, participated in his first meeting. Mike Beighley, superintendent at Whitehall, returned to the Board after completing two successive terms from 2011-17, serving as president in 2014-15.

For more information, please contact the WIAA office at (715) 344-8580.

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