STEVENS POINT — The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control considered a number of options to move forward with the 2020 fall sports season at its special virtual meeting Thursday.
In an 8–3 decision, the board approved conducting the fall sports season with a delayed start.
The “low risk” sports of girls golf, girls tennis, girls swimming, and boys and girls cross country will be permitted to begin practice with prescribed acclimatization protocol Monday, Aug. 17.
The earliest practice date for the sports of football (both 11-player and 8-player), boys soccer, and boys and girls volleyball was pushed back to Monday, Sept. 7.
Football practice for 11-player teams was slated to begin Tuesday prior to the WIAA’s announcment last week. Volleyball and boys soccer were previously set to begin practice on Aug. 17.
“Because of the Board’s action, while they can’t make any guarantees that things will work out as we plan them, they have given us the opportunity to at least hope and work in that direction,” said WIAA Executive Director Dave Anderson. “We understand this decision will make some happy and others disappointed, but we will do our best to deliver to our membership what they have directed us to do.”
“I just wish there was a unilateral decision,” said Platteville Activities Director Mike Foley. “It would have been a lot better for all the school districts if the WIAA would have just made a unilateral decision to have fall sports or not.
“It’s not an equity issue because it more about where you are located geographically. Here in Grant County, we have had cases, but not like Dane County or Milwaukee County. It’s not fair to kids in those big cities that won’t be able to compete this fall while other schools in more rural areas will.”
Speaking with other athletic directors in the Madison area, Foley has been informed a number of schools in Dane County will most likely not play fall sports at all this season.
As for those schools that opt to continue with the delayed fall season, the earliest date for the first competitions is Aug. 25 for cross country, and girls swimming.
The earliest permissible date for the first boys soccer, and boys and girls volleyball contests are Sept. 15, and the first possible football game may be scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 23, if the first practice is conducted on Sept. 7.
The Platteville football team was scheduled to host a four-team scrimmage Aug. 14 at PHS and set to travel to Darlington Aug. 21 to begin the regular season.
Platteville volleyball was scheduled to host a scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 22 and open the season Thursday, Sept. 3 at home against Prairie du Chen.
The Platteville/Lancaster boys soccer team had a scrimmage and seven games scheduled prior to Sept. 15.
Foley noted that Platteville must rework the schedules for football, volleyball and boys soccer and hopes to have the new schedules in placeby the end of next week.
“We are being proactive and plan ahead right now. It’s always easier to postpone or canel events later on that try to come up with a schedule at a later date.We have to plan for transportation and having our kids safe on buses when they go to athletic events. There are a lot of things we have to plan for that we have never had to plan for before.”
Platteville Schools have had a travel ban on on school activities since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Platteville teams are not allowed to attend or compete in extra-curricular or co-curricular events outsides of the district.
Platteville High School Activities Director Mike Foley said the Platteville administration team, along with imput from Southwest Health will make a decision in the, “very near future.”
“We have been working with a group of doctors at Southwest Health to help us with our plans,” said Foley.
The athletic directors of the Southwest Wisconsin Confernece will also have a virtual meeting Thursday to discuss the upcoming fall sports season.
Another potential sticking point for Platteville varsity football and the Platteville/Lancaster girls swim team is the use of UW–Platteville facillities. The football team plays varsity homes games at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium, while the girls swim team hosts practices and home meets at UW–Platteville.
UW–Platteville is set to begin the fall semester with in-person classes Sept. 1, but students have been away from campus since March when all classes were converted to on-line.
UW–Platteville Public Information Officer Paul Erickson said UW–Platteville has, “not yet finalized facility-usage and events plans for the fall.”
“We have a lot of important administration meetings coming up to discuss our reopening posibilities,” said Foley. “We just want to do what’s best for the stakeholders in our community Platteville School District is going to do our best to provide opportunites for our student–athletes, but we concerned with the safety of our kids first. A lot of teenagers aren’t being tested because they don’t show the signs of the virus, but they can be carries and pass on the virus. That’s what makes this so difficult. This virus is a week by week thing. You just don’t know.”
The end of the fall sports seasons remained unchanged, but the WIAA board indicated the season may or may not culminate with a traditional tournament series. The length and beginning of the tournament series will be determined in the coming days. In addition, the winter and spring season calendars were not altered.
Another component of the Board’s decision provides schools, which are unable to start fall sports in 2020, an opportunity in the spring to conduct their fall seasons. The Board directed the executive staff to develop details and calendars for an alternative three-sport season in the second semester of the 2020–21 school year to be presented at a later date. The alternate three-sport season plan was derived from a proposal created by Lancaster schools superintendent Rob Wagner and submitted to the WIAA executive staff with support of the school district administrators from the southwest area of the state, in Cooperative Educational Service Agency District 3.
The Platteville School Board voted 5–4 to reject the CESA 3 proposal last Wednesday’s board meeting.
The membership of the WIAA oversees interscholastic athletic programs for 513 senior high schools and 49 junior high/middle level schools in its membership. It sponsors 27 championship tournament series for boys and girls in 2020–21.