PORTSMOUTH — There’s no denying that the Ohio High School Athletic Association has a best-laid plan.
However, it’s all dependent upon two little letters which combine for —right now anyways —one big word: “IF”.
As the OHSAA’s no-contact period — which includes for the 2020 spring sports of boys tennis, track and field, baseball and softball — remains intact until at least Friday, May 1, Ohio’s governing body for high school sports has devised an abbreviated schedule for each activity.
Those schedules, which were announced as part of a memo to member schools on Wednesday from OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass, span all of May and almost all of June — should spring sports NOT get cancelled by the OHSAA beforehand.
Still, these timelines are indeed ALL tied to one specific date — that being Monday, May 4 IF Ohio’s schools are re-opened by order of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
The OHSAA is currently in a dead period — which went into effect on March 16 to coincide with DeWine’s original order that ALL Ohio schools, both public and private, be closed effective on that date.
DeWine’s original announcement that schools be closed came on March 12, as Snodgrass sent a memo to member schools the following day to officially announce the mandated no-contact period.
At the time, the no-contact period — in conjunction with the schools closure directive in response to the threat of the coronavirus —was set to expire after April 5.
Spring sports, had they resumed in fact on Monday, did have a re-acclimation period of exactly one week —from Monday, April 6 thru Saturday, April 11.
In a March 31 memo, Snodgrass wrote that the dead period is extended thru May 1, and that no practices or competitions may occur through that day.
Snodgrass wrote: “This is to assist with the Governor’s ‘stay at home’ order, to prohibit coaches from privately meeting with student-athletes AND to put all schools on an equal level relative to future competitive opportunities.”
That particular date is in sync with what DeWine issued on April 2 — an extension of his mandate that the Buckeye State’s schools remain closed AND that the state’s “stay-at-home” order remain in effect until then.
Electronic communication is still permitted, but coaches are encouraged to maintain correspondence and provide workout information to individuals only —not to organize for small-group instruction or practices.
In Wednesday’s memo, Snodgrass wrote that the OHSAA continues “to stay in close contact with the state’s leadership relative to stay-at-home orders. If schools are closed for the remainder of the school year, spring sports will be cancelled in Ohio.”
To be honest, that’s the easy part of the situation to understand, but now comes the more challenging one.
Snodgrass wrote that “We are continuing with the Governor’s optimistic direction that schools will re-open on May 4. We will adjust accordingly. However optimistic this may be, we must PLAN for the return even if that ends up changing.”
The OHSAA — assuming its no-contact period expires after Sunday, May 3 — has adopted a tentative spring sports schedule, with specific information relative to sectional and district tournaments, playing dates, seeding procedure and game sites provided in communications from the six (OHSAA) District Athletic Boards.
IF for any reason specific sites are shut down due to DeWine’s orders, ALL sites will be shut down and a tournament will not be held.
For all spring sports, there is a re-acclimation period from Monday, May 4 thru Friday, May 8 —with official competition set to begin on Saturday, May 9.
Baseball, boys tennis and track and field seasons officially end as of Sunday, June 28 — while softball season won’t officially be declared done until Saturday, July 4.
The specific time frames for each activity’s tournaments are as follows:
Boys Tennis: May 18 tournament draw; May 30-June 6 sectional; June 8-13 district; June 18-20 state
Baseball: May 17 tournament draw; May 23-30 sectional; June 1-6 district; June 11-12 regional; June 19-21 state
Softball: May 24 tournament draw; May 30-June 6 sectional; June 8-13 district; June 15-20 regional; June 25-27 state
Track and field: May 31 tournament draw; June 9-13 district; June 17-20 regional; June 26-27 state
Sectional competition shall NOT begin earlier than the dates which are provided per each sport.
Snodgrass also addressed that if “any type of non-interscholastic participation becomes permitted by governors’ orders and has been occurring (which is doubtful) it must be concluded by May 4. Although the regular season(s) will be much shorter, schools can continue scheduling contests until the end of the season.”
The memo also included information about the following:
More Guidance for Fall
Scholarship Eligibility/NCAA Eligibility
A reminder from previous guidance last week that the GPA requirement is not an OHSAA mandate (many are not aware of that). While law mandates you have one, it is not used for eligibility or ineligibility in our office (violating a school’s GPA requirement does not result in forfeiture of a contest). Therefore, if you are utilizing Pass/Fail options for your students, you need not worry how that affects fall 2020 eligibility.
The NFHS continues conversation with the NCAA relative to student-athlete fall semester eligibility. The NFHS expects decisions from the NCAA very soon relative to Div. I and Div. II to follow soon after as it relates to Pass/Fail grades and GPA requirements at the NCAA level. It has been asked that they have a link to easy access for news, updates and FAQ’s and the NCAA has assured this will occur. We will share that as soon as we are provided it. Since the NCAA and NFHS share the same office building in Indianapolis, the dialogue in communication continues efficiently. Much of their info can be found at ncaa.org/COVID-19.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved