AIA suspends sports for 2 weeks The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

AIA suspends sports for 2 weeks

AIA suspends sports for 2 weeks

By Zach Alvira
AFN Sports Editor

The Arizona Interscholastic Association announced Monday it was postponing all spring high school sports through Saturday, March 28 as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The decision came during the executive board meeting Monday, where the board entered executive session for nearly an hour and a half to discuss all possible outcomes.

“We have about 150,000 kids competing out of 325,000 in our high school association. They are very much involved in the activities they do,” AIA Executive Director David Hines said. “The first thing is, what can we do to try and give them some opportunity, if we can? We have been paying attention to the state health department, and as we move forward, we are going to use it and the CDC’s information.

“As long as schools are closed, we wanted to make sure people knew there would be not athletic competition.”

All games and scrimmages across the state will seize immediately. It was not immediately clear whether those games would be made up or canceled. At this time, spring postseason tournaments and meets will take place as scheduled. Hines said it would conduct tournaments in their entirety if the season needs to be extended along with school.

“If the state said we had to push back school then we would certainly have the ability to extend our postseason,” Hines said. “We would do it based on information from our schools. If the word is schools won’t have to make up days missed, we would stay with our current schedule and adapt the number of games we play and make the adjustment on our end.

Hines added should state officials not resume school, tournaments would likely be canceled.

According to a release from the AIA shortly after the announcement, the earliest possible resumption of sports will be Monday, March 30. However, Hines added games likely wouldn’t take place until a few days after in order to allow teams a chance to prepare.

Should schools decide to further cancel events out of precaution, the AIA will respect those decisions and cancellation fees will be waived.

“We just have to wait and see,” Mesa Public Schools District Athletic Director Steve Hogan said. “I think it’s good. Let’s take this opportunity to say not to make a decision until you have to.”

The AIA said in its release it would leave it up to member schools to decide whether or not practices for spring sports teams continue, an idea Hogan wasn’t keen on.

“I’m not real big on the idea of leaving it up to schools to practice,” Hogan said, “I think it should be something we all do the same.”

Some district and school athletic directors in attendance Monday gathered outside the AIA office shortly after the ruling. Most, including Mesa Public Schools and Gilbert Public Schools, said they would not allow teams to practice.

Tempe Union High School District Athletic Director Bruce Kipper said in a text message, officials have “shut down all athletics and activities, including practice.”

Dr. Camille Casteel, the superintendent of the Chandler Unified School District, said she and District Athletic Director Marcus Williams would gather input from parents regarding whether or not to continue practices.

“I indicated to him we need to get parental input and draw up a proposal to keep our kids safe,” she said. “Whether it’s through extraordinary sanitizing and keeping the numbers below the 50 mark. But having parent support is going to be key.”

Monday afternoon, it was announced all Chandler district athletic teams would not practice. Scottsdale Unified School District also said teams would not practice during the two-week closure.

Scottsdale Unified School District announced in a statement Monday afternoon all of its athletic programs would also not practice during the two-week suspension of play.

An email to Higley Unified School District officials was not answered.

Mountain View Athletic Director Roxanne Perrin, who was in attendance, said she had received several questions regarding practice from her coaches.

“We’ve been telling them the kids can get together on their own without coaches,” Perrin said. “I don’t think this message is going to change.”

All rules and bylaws in the AIA handbook will still be applied during the two-week hiatus. That includes rule 14.2.2, which does not allow athletes from different schools to practice or train with one another during the season. Hines said kids from the same school can train together, but should they get any instruction it has to be limited to one-on-one.

Hogan hopes to discuss that rule in depth on Monday, March 23 when the AIA executive board, its conference chair members and school and district athletic directors meet again.

“I was hoping for a little more clarification on that,” Hogan said. “I’m concerned there will be kids who break a bylaw because they inadvertently get together and go to some event or are at some batting cage together and not have a clue they’re breaking the bylaw.”

One change that will take place, however, involves transfers. Should spring sports resume as scheduled, student-athletes that were forced to sit for half the season will have eligibility restored immediately.

Perrin is pleased with the board’s decision.

“This has been such a fluid situation and things have been changing consistently,” Perrin said. “Our biggest concern is keeping our kids and our coaches safe and so having that two-week buffer where we aren’t having school and not practicing, I’m in favor of that.”

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