NCHSAA extends coronavirus dead period until June 15

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 4, 2020

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The N.C. High School Athletic Association Board of Directors voted May 25 to extend the coronavirus dead period until June 15.
The NCHSAA notified membership that the dead period would be extended by two weeks. The dead period was originally scheduled to end June 1. The vote to extend the dead period until at least June 15 was unanimous.
NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker held a press conference with members of the media on May 25. Tucker said the intention is to move forward once the dead period ends on June 15. The NCHSAA is working on minimum guidelines for schools to follow. Guidelines are a minimum standard and local school districts can make them more stringent.
NCHSAA plans to allow all sports to resume when the dead period ends. However, there will be restrictions and no contact will be allowed. Tucker said the NCHSAA is being “very deliberate” and that’s why they have not rushed to make any decisions on returning to play.
The NCHSAA realizes it’s not possible to prevent all athletes from contracting COVID-19, Tucker said. NCHSAA urges schools to start gathering things like sanitizer, cleaning supplies, gloves, masks and other supplies that may be needed to safely conduct athletics and minimize risk.
NCHSAA is not considering moving sports seasons. “We don’t think it is even wise to begin talking about moving sports seasons right now,” Tucker said. “We’re not really entertaining that.”
NCHSAA expects to release guidelines to schools no later than one week prior to the resumption of athletics, ideally sooner than that. Tucker said the NCHSAA itself has taken an 8-10% hit financially due to coronavirus.
Nothing is off the table, she said. The NCHSAA is moving forward as if fall sports will begin on Aug. 1. However, they are working on contingency plans in case that cannot happen. Options include shortening the regular season and possibly reducing the number of teams in the playoffs. However, if the fall season is shortened, it does not necessarily mean other seasons will be shortened.
There is no change to the realignment calendar. Bylaws require realignment happen every four years, so it must be done this year.
In an email to the NCHSAA membership, the association says the board also authorized staff to continue working with the NCHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to create plans for a phased return to summer activities and conditioning.
The NCHSAA is also encouraging athletic departments to begin to prepare for the resumption of activities by purchasing items like entrance and exit signs, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, masks, gloves, hand washing stations, water stations and objects to mark social distancing areas.
Tucker was asked about some of the scenarios and options the NCHSAA has looked at with August being less than two months away.
Tucker: “Obviously, we’re looking at everything as on go and we’re able to begin Aug. 1 just like we begin every Aug. 1 with all fall sports being able to start practice and that all restrictions have been lifted as it relates to congregating spectators in the stands. That’s option 1, but that’s probably an unrealistic option. We look at option 2, it might be — depending on what our guidelines are — that we’re not able to start practice until after school starts. I’ve been hearing that school has been predicted to start Aug. 17. We would work in concert with that start date, that it would be the first time that we could have full team play, full team practice for all of the sports. Then, of course, you have to go through your conditioning period — especially for football. So you might be looking at not even playing until the first of September. Now you’ve got to start looking at how many play dates you’re going to have for your regular season with the idea that we would still be able to end with our state championships as they are currently scheduled (in December).
“Then, another option is that they tell us that we can’t even begin fall sports until Sept. 1. Now, that presents an even more difficult and challenging calendar because you have less days to work with as far as regular-season play and all of those things. And in all of those options, it might be, the state is saying, ‘Well, in the stands, you can have no spectators or you can have a limited number of spectators.’ … If we get to the point where they tell us you can’t have any spectators in the stands for football, soccer, volleyball, I start to worry now about how are schools would make it, especially those who depend on football to help finance not only football but finance their entire athletic program.”
When Tucker was asked about the possibility of pushing football to the spring and moving spring sports to the fall, Tucker explained why that scenario is very unlikely.
Tucker: “That has been something that has floated around a little bit here in North Carolina. But I can tell you that if we were to try to flip our spring sports to the fall and then move fall to the spring, our schools that are in the mountains and that border South Carolina and border Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, they would really struggle because many of them play those schools. If those states are not flipping their sports seasons, they may have difficulty finding games to play. We know you can play North Carolina schools, but some of them, some of their bigger gates happen to be when they play those teams that border us. I already know that Tennessee is not thinking about flipping. South Carolina is not thinking about flipping. … To be honest with you, I asked somebody at the national level if there had been much of that discussion nationwide and the answer was no.”