After Friday’s WIAA Board of Control decision, it is up to local officials to determine the fate of fall high school sports. The Packerland Conference will be meeting Tuesday to discuss a wide range of possibilities. Noncontact sports won’t have to wait until then, with practice beginning the day before. It appears almost certain that cross country, the only one offered by the Packerland, will happen as scheduled. Swimming and golf involve some Packerland schools, but they belong to different conferences to compete in those activities. For the rest, the future is murkier. Commissioner Mike Holtz expects a lengthy meeting with everything on the table.
One of the discussion points will be the differing COVID-19 activity levels among different counties. With additions like Clintonville and Bonduel for football, Packerland membership stretches across Marinette, Oconto, Brown, Kewaunee, and Door Counties. Some trial balloons have already been floated to have limited schedules where teams only play schools from their home county. While Door is relatively unaffected by such a proposition, many member schools could find themselves playing against teams from other conferences to meet such a stipulation.
Another potential sticking point for Packerland schools, which tend to have smaller enrollments and rely on multisport athletes, is the overlap that happens under the approved WIAA alternate schedule should fall sports be moved to the spring. Football would conflict with baseball for at least one week of competition. Cross country would be at odds with track and field. The full WIAA press release is below.
BOARD DEFINES ALTERNATE FALL SEASON; WINTER & SPRING SEASONS SHORTENED
STEVENS POINT, Wis. – The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association approved several details of a one-year alternative season in the spring for fall sports and reduced the number of weeks for sports during the 2020-21 winter and spring seasons at its August meeting today.
The Board established the parameters and context of the alternate fall season with seven weeks of competition in the spring. Football programs unable to start or complete 50 percent of the fall season, including games and practices, are eligible for a prorated alternate season. Other fall sports unable to start or complete 50 percent of the fall season, including games and practices, are eligible for a complete alternate season. Fall sports programs exceeding 50 percent of their seasons will be considered a completed season.
For planning and scheduling purposes, schools will be required to initially declare if they plan to participate in the traditional fall season or the alternate fall season in the spring by Sept. 1. Athletic directors at member schools will receive an email with a link to the online form to declare their intentions.
The revised sports calendar replaces the existing 2020-21 season calendars and identifies – in addition to an alternate fall season in the spring with seven weeks of competition – a period of no coaching contact prior to the start of the respective sport seasons; an acclimatization or practice period before the first allowed competition; and the designated number of weeks for the winter and spring seasons, including any culminating event. The Board acknowledges all schedules are subject to change if conditions warrant in accordance with local, state and national health guidelines.
2020-21 Fall Sports Season Start & End Dates (* End dates to be determined)
Cross Country-Boys & Girls (Monday, Aug. 17 - Week of Oct. 26*)
Football (Monday, Sept. 7 - Week of Nov. 16*) - Earliest first game is Wednesday, Sept. 23
Golf-Girls (Monday, Aug. 17 - Week of Oct. 12*)
Soccer-Boys (Monday, Sept. 7 - Week of Nov. 2*)
Swimming & Diving-Girls (Monday, Aug. 17 - Week of Nov. 9*)
Tennis-Girls (Monday, Aug. 17 - Week of Oct. 19*)
Volleyball - Boys & Girls (Monday, Sept. 7 - Week of Nov. 2*)
2020-21 Winter Sports Season Start & End Dates
Basketball-Boys (Monday, Nov. 23 - Week of March 1*)
Basketball-Girls (Monday, Nov. 16 - Week of Feb. 22*)
Gymnastics (Monday, Nov. 16 - Week of Feb. 22*)
Hockey- Boys & Girls (Monday, Nov. 16 - Week of Feb. 15*)
Swimming & Diving-Boys (Monday, Nov. 23 - Week of Feb. 1*)
Wrestling (Monday, Nov. 23 - Week of Feb. 15*)
2020-21 Alternate Fall Sports Season Start & End Dates
Cross Country-Boys & Girls (Monday, March 15 - Week of May 3*)
Football (Monday, March 8 - Week of May 3*) - Earliest first game is Wednesday, March 24
Golf-Girls (Monday, March 29 - Week of May 17*)
Soccer-Boys (Monday, March 22 - Week of May 10*)
Swimming & Diving-Girls (Monday, Feb. 15 - Week of April 5*)
Tennis-Girls (Monday, March 8 - Week of April 26*)
Volleyball - Boys & Girls (Monday, Feb. 22 - Week of April 12*)
2020-21 Spring Sports Season Start & End Dates
Baseball (Monday, April 19 - Week of June 28*)
Golf-Boys (Monday, April 19 - Week of June 14*)
Softball (Monday, April 19 - Week of June 28*)
Soccer-Girls (Monday, April 26 - Week of June 28*)
Tennis-Boys (Monday, May 3 - Week of June 21*)
Track & Field - Boys & Girls (Monday, April 19 - Week of June 28*)
The revised calendar emphasizes the Board’s position to accommodate all the sport seasons in 2020-21 with the knowledge a number of member schools having already determined interscholastic activities are not able to be conducted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Board also addressed a number of other rules and regulations to be modified or suspended in 2020-21 to provide flexibility to members and licensed officials during the pandemic.
* If tournament series are conducted, regional groupings will be implemented (four teams in football).
* All minimum number of contests requirement for tournament eligibility will be suspended in 2020-21.
* All tournament series seeding will be conducted virtually in 2020-21.
* All nonborder out-of-state competitions or practices are strongly discouraged.
* All multiple-team events from outside a host’s region is strongly discouraged.
* Co-op programs that include schools that are unable to participate in activities during 2020-21 may seek other co-op partners to provide opportunities for participation.
* With conference approval, schools whose conference has canceled sports in 2020-21 may seek schedule relief with other conferences as an independent without sanctions or going through the prescribed conference realignment process.
* For 2020-21, programs may schedule contests after they are eliminated from the WIAA tournament or culminating event respective sport’s revised season.
* Schools that were unable to conduct their five unrestricted coaching contact days during the 2020 summer may schedule those days during the 2020-21 calendar provided there is one week of no contact prior to the start of the respective season. However, during the closed-session meeting, the Board directed staff to have discussions on coaching contact during 2020-21 placed on the agenda of the September meeting.
* Licensed officials will not drop in classification in 2021-22 if they choose not to renew licensure or are unable to fill a varsity schedule. in 2020-21.
The Board also determined student-athletes may compete in no more than two nonschool events with school approval during each regular sports season in 2020-21 only, which adopts the middle-level regulation. An “event” will be defined as a game or tournament.
The “Return to Fall Sports Considerations” was approved for distribution to the membership and for placement on the COVID-19 page of the WIAA website. Also passed was a recommendation to add language to the Code of Conduct section of the Rules of Eligibility, clarifying how schools respond to allegations of sexual harassment at school or at school-sponsored events.
In other action, the Board voted to table a discussion of a request to form another ad-hoc committee to review competitive equity, and gave its approval of new appointments to the 2020-21 Coaches Advisory Committees and the Conference Realignment Task Force. In addition, the Board authorized the annual renewal of the Association’s membership in the National Federation of State High School Associations, the newly created Conference Realignment Task Force Handbook, as well as the editorial modifications to the 2020-21 Media Policies Guide and Administrative Staff Handbook.
Among the other topics discussed were the decision to conduct the 2020 Area Meetings in September virtually, the initial development of the 2020-21 operational budget, the launching of the COVID-19 Games Wanted webpage on the WIAA website and a review of the New AD Workshop.
The conference realignment request from Dodgeland/Hustisford for boys soccer only was approved via the fast track option implemented by the Conference Realignment Task Force. The co-op will move to the Flyway Conference from Capitol Conference in 2021-22.
The Board also received liaison reports from Mike Thompson of the Department of Public Instruction, John Ashley of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, and Nathan Delany of the Wisconsin Athletic Directors Association, as well as a presentation on returning to high school sports by Dr. Tim McGuine.
The WIAA, as defined by its Constitution, is a voluntary, unincorporated, and nonprofit organization. The membership oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 513 senior high schools and 49 junior high/middle level schools in its membership. It sponsors State Championship Tournament Series for boys and girls. For more information, please contact the WIAA office at (715) 344-8580.