COLUMBUS — Friday afternoon OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass sent a memo to all OHSAA member school administrators regarding the postponed winter tournaments as well as the affect of the coronavirus on spring sports.
The memo updated several issues related to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s recent order mandating school closures beginning next week and its impact on school-based athletics. Schools are to be closed until at least April 3.
No OHSAA member schools may conduct practices or participate in scrimmages or contests through at least April 5. Pending any changes from the governor’s office or medical professionals, spring sports practices may begin on Monday, April 6 and scrimmages and / or contests may begin on Saturday, April 11.
This rule also affects athletes that are involved in winter sports tournaments that were postponed due to coronavirus concerns.
The memo states, “In the winter sports of basketball, ice hockey and wrestling, the OHSAA has implemented indefinitely a no-contact period, which prohibits any coach, paid or volunteer, approved by the board of education to provide coaching, instruction or supervising conditioning and physical fitness programs or open gyms to members of a school team in their sports.”
The same regulations in place for spring sports student-athletes and coaches are in effect for these winter sports.
Athletes involved in spring sports can receive individual skill / coaching instruction from non-school coaches without hurting their eligibility status.
The memo states, “Student-athletes may receive individual skill/coaching instruction from a non-school coach or instructor at any time provided this does not violate any Board of Education (or similar governing board), school administrators’ or school coaches’ policies or the Ohio Revised Code. Again, this individual skill/coaching instruction may not be held at school facilities since Governor DeWine has ordered all schools closed through at least April 3.”
The OHSAA is encouraging schools to cancel out of state spring break trips.
The memo states, “Should a team still take a trip, you are reminded of the order signed by Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH, on March 12 that says mass gatherings of 100 or more people are prohibited. We are encouraging you to follow this directive regardless of where a contest is played.”
The status of spring sports tournaments has not yet been made. If normal school attendance resumes on April 6, the current spring sports tournament dates would be followed.
However, mandates from the governor’s office or orders from public health officials that could cancel or postpone these tournaments.
“We can tell you that our staff is already looking at options, which include the possibilities of postponements and cancellations,” the memo states. “We will continue to monitor the situation, work closely with the proper authorities and make decisions that are in the best interests of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans.”
If spring sports practices and contests are reinstated, if and when schools re-open on April 6, scrimmages and/or contests may begin on Saturday, April 11. The exception is boys tennis, which may begin contests on April 6.
In the sport of boys lacrosse, a three-day acclimatization period is required prior to contact being permitted during the first three days of practice. This is in place for all student-athletes joining the team for the first time at any point during the season.
In 7th and 8th grade track and field, ten (10) days of practice are required prior to the first interscholastic competition.
Athletes can participate in non-interscholastic practices and contests without jeopardizing their spring sports eligibility status, but there are restrictions.
“If a student-athlete has not participated in an interscholastic scrimmage or contest this school season, he or she may practice and/or participate with a non-school team without jeopardizing his/her eligibility status,” the memo states.
“If they meet this condition, all aspects of GSR 7.3 are applied, including the limitation of 50 percent of participants from each school. Otherwise, a student-athlete who has participated in an interscholastic scrimmage or contest may not participate with a non-school team and, should the OHSAA seasons indeed resume, this student-athlete would be ineligible.”
Practices and / or contests for spring sports that are led by parents, coaches and / or students are discouraged.
“All practices and/or contests may not be held, and school facilities shall not be utilized since Governor DeWine has ordered all schools closed through at least April 3. Any practices and/or contests organized by parents, coaches and/or students are highly discouraged.”
As announced Thursday, the regional and state boys basketball, state girls basketball, state ice hockey and state individual wrestling tournaments are postponed indefinitely.
“Given the rapidly changing events nationally and statewide, we are assessing the situation daily,” Snodgrass said. “It is impossible to make a determination today … the reason for continuing them to be ‘postponed.’ If your team remains in the tournament, you need to remind them that the ‘non-interscholastic rule’ remains in effect.
“Further, we have implemented indefinitely a no-contact period, which prohibits any coach, paid or volunteer, approved by the board of education to provide coaching, instruction or supervising conditioning and physical fitness programs or open gyms to members of a school team in their sports,” Snodgrass added. “Again, we are assessing this daily and we will keep you up-to-date on a regular basis.”