UPDATED: 4/22/20 11:30 a.m.; again at 12:13 p.m.
Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) officials formally announced the cancelation of the entire spring sports season on Tuesday, as well as the cancelation of the 2020 state basketball tournaments, which was just getting underway when COVID-19 forced high school sports into a dead period. The announcement also included a ruling that all provisions of the Coronavirus Dead Period order will remain in effect until further notice.
“We have until this point purposely taken a measured approach to the resumption of our basketball events and consideration of the ending of the spring seasons for sports and sport-activities,” stated KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “We have accepted continual guidance from a variety of sources, and have steadfastly held on to hope that the great student-athletes who represent their schools through a variety of teams would have an opportunity to compete this season.
“This is without question the most challenging period I have seen or faced in thirty-six years in this office. This impacts so many people, but in the end, is in the best interest of public health. We have been especially concerned with the graduating class of 2020, those seniors who put so much into their athletic participation opportunities hoping for one last time to shine before the home crowds or at postseason events. We know for the vast majority of them, their future plans are already laid out, with college and career final preparation as their next chapter. We are also keenly aware that per almost all metrics, 94% of the students who participate in high school sports and sport-activities are involved in their last organized competition while in high school, as the lion’s share of participants will not play beyond this level. In the end, however, the health and safety of all individuals, participants, coaches, and spectators, is much more important than the various interscholastic activities.”
The Dead Period order that the KHSAA includes a rule that says KHSAA eligible athletes are prohibited in participate in any organized team activity or organized or semi-organized team competition in any sport or sport-activity in any format “at any location in any state.”
With the approach of summer travel ball season, that rule would mean that any Webster County High School athletes who plays on travel teams based in other states during the summer, even those who may have lower COVID-19 numbers than Kentucky and choose to reopened such events.
The restriction also includes any in-person individual instruction, even if the athlete has employed a private instructor and plans on seeing that instructor outside of what would be normal school hours.
“If we are still in the same statewide restrictions, then you get into eligibility penalties for students violating, institutional penalties for coaches and schools,” Tackett said in an email to the J-E. “That is not where anyone wants to go.
“Our policy, if carefully reviewed, has always been stated that these current provisions and restrictions are under constant review and further updating can and will occur. Without a doubt, it is my hope that as current non-school facility and other restrictions are revised and perhaps eased, hopefully in the near term, there will necessarily be revisions in the existing policies and interpretations. It is only April, and we ALL have the benefit of time to see how our efforts are successful in battling this common opponent, the virus.
“(It) will be challenging as different states with different rules offer different decision points. But our athletes and coaches (and their families) will have to comply with the state policies here, including being subject to additional quarantine if that out of state travel were to occur.”
After some clarification on the rules, Tackett stated that student athletes could play golf at any open golf facility with family members without being in violation of the rules, as long as they do not enter a golf tournament.
“Playing in a competition would be a problem,” he stated. “Playing as a family member is not only permissible, but encouraged, provided that all social distancing and other guidelines are met.”
According to an article published by WDRB, during this nightly briefing, Governor Andy Beshear said that sports fans should expect changes for sports to continue well into the fall, stating that sports might be able to resume in the fall semester, but without fans in attendance.
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