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Prep sports to start on time, AHSAA says; OVC delays most fall sports

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Alabama fall high school sports will start on time, the Alabama High School Athletic Association announced Wednesday.

On the collegiate level, the Ohio Valley Conference will delay the start of fall Olympic sports and other sports with non-traditional seasons in the fall until Sept. 17, the league’s board of presidents announced on Wednesday.

The moves come amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in most states.

The AHSAA will hold a news conference Thursday at 1 p.m., a day after the Central Board of Control approved the AHSAA’s Return to Play ‘Best Practices’ recommended guidelines and reaffirmed plans to start fall sports on time.

The action came Wednesday at the AHSAA’s annual summer meeting in Montgomery.

Fall sports teams have the option to begin fall workouts July 27, with the first week used by football for acclimation purposes with only helmets and shorts.

The other fall sports – volleyball, cross country and swimming and diving – can use the first week for acclimation and tryouts. Schools not choosing that option may start fall practice on Aug. 3.

The first contest can be August 20.

“The purpose of the Return to Play document is to offer AHSAA member schools best practices in order to commence the 2020-21 school year athletic seasons as scheduled and as safely as possible,” AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese said. 

The Central Board also waived member school dues for the 30th consecutive year – a savings of approximately $84,000 for the schools for the coming school year and a total savings of approximately $2.4 million since 1991-92 for the AHSAA’s 416 high schools and 336 middle/junior high schools.

The Legislative Council also held its summer meeting Wednesday and approved publications and constitution amendments.

In other Board action Wednesday:

· Reviewed the Cash and Current AHSAA assets;

· Approved the 2019-20 AHSAA and AHAADCA Financial Statements;

· Approved the AHSAA and AHSADCA 2020-21 Budgets; 

· Approved AHSAA insurance coverages; 

· Tabled the Revenue Share Amount for the 2019-20 school year; 

· Approved all 2020-21 Publications and heard a report on the digital access publication plan from Assistant Director Kim Vickers; 

· Approved a request to postpone the Instant Replay Experiment to the 2021 season as a result of COVID 19; 

· Discussed COVID-19 Championship contingency plans; 

· Rescheduled the October Central Board meeting from October 14 to October 15; 

· Approved paid vacation for unused dates for AHSAA staff members.

OVC delays most fall sports

The OVC’s move will affect women’s soccer and volleyball, which will have conference-only competition. Also starting Sept. 17 are the fall competitive schedules for cross country and non-championship segments for golf, tennis and non-traditional competition seasons for baseball and softball.  

Because of contractual matters, Wednesday’s announcement does not impact football “at this time,” according to a league news release.

“We basically made that statement today that we want to try to do everything we can to play,” JSU athletics director Greg Seitz said. “You want to do everything you can to play those football games.

“Right now, we’re scheduled to go as everything as planned. One thing that could impact it is what the FBS schools do. Geographically, we’re right in the heart of SEC country. So, if the SEC made a significant move, the OVC would certainly go back in and reconsider.”

The board will continue to monitor the situation “to ensure the conference's plans are supported by current medical evidence and guidance,” an OVC release said.

The delay is designed to provide each campus more time to prepare for seasons under new health guidelines, to stagger the start of seasons and for schools to experience the impact of having the student body return to campus.

“Some of our preseason schedules had already been impacted from other conferences already canceling their games, so we had already lost probably half of our non-conference schedule, due to other conferences and decisions they made,” Seitz said. “This will give us a little more time to see if things improve from things that we’re experiencing right now with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Competitive schedules for winter and spring sports are expected to remain unchanged.

Upon return to campus, teams will have the opportunity to train and practice under approved safety protocols established in partnership with the NCAA’s Resocialization of College Sports Guidelines, each institution and local public health experts. 

 

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.

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