WIAA to consider moving fall sports to spring in Thursday special session

With fall sports looking more and more unlikely in light of the Big 8 announcing Tuesday that they were canceling all fall sports conference games, the WIAA will meet Thursday morning to review options and offer guidance to its membership.

The WIAA Board of Control will meet to pursue a path forward for fall sports, including consideration of a plan drawn up by southwestern Wisconsin Athletic Directors that would move fall sports to the spring.

What's inside that proposal? The group of athletic directors, in CESA District 3, wrote to WIAA Executive Director Dave Anderson earlier this month to suggest stacking the high school sports seasons, beginning in December.

From the proposal, winter sports could "start as usual... if needed, [schools could] delay the winter season until the week of January 4th" with practices beginning in mid-December. Then, fall sports would begin in March when spring sports usually began, continuing until late May. Spring sports would begin in late May and continue into July.

The letter also notes that the seasons would be separate, not overlapping other than for teams advancing late into state tournaments.

It's this proposal that will be considered during the 9 a.m. special session of the Board of Control on Thursday, which is comprised of school administrators from around Wisconsin. With several schools canceling or considering canceling non-conference events in August and an entire conference eliminating its conference matches and meets, the guidance offered Thursday should bring about a number of conference and school announcements.

Neighboring states have already laid out their plans and timelines for fall sports guidance. Iowa and Pennsylvania are full-go; Michigan is taking a staged approach, with its next step to eliminate non-conference match-ups and then to move fall sports to the spring, much like the Wisconsin proposal. Minnesota will await guidance from the state government and its reopening plan, due next week. Illinois will make their fall sports decisions on July 29, following a meeting with the state's health officials later this week.

In Wisconsin, there is no statewide mandate, but several counties have their own varying levels of restrictions on mass gatherings and athletic contests, Some of the most strict guidelines exist in Dane County, where some of the largest school districts, such as Sun Prairie and Middleton, are opting for full virtual schooling at the start of the year, and MMSD not far behind from making it official for the four high schools that compete in athletics in its purview. Under county guidelines, athletic competitions are banned, forcing out teams such as USL One's Forward Madison FC, which opted to play its home matches in Wauwatosa.

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