NYSPHSAA delaying start of Fall 2020 sports season to September 21

Local News

LATHAM, N.Y. (WIVB)–The New York State Public High School Athletic Association is delaying the official start date of the Fall 2020 sports season.

NYSPHSAA officials also voted Thursday to cancel the Fall 2020 Regional and State Championships.

“Obviously the number one priority is the health and welfare of your student athletes, so whether you’re coaching football, basketball, or baseball, the safety of your kids should be the most important thing,” Lancaster head coach Eric Rupp said. “This gives us a little bit more time, and hopefully the numbers will continue to trend in a positive direction, but at the same time it’s a little bit disappointing.”

“We have kids on our team that won the Section for basketball then weren’t able to participate in the State playoffs, then spring sports were cancelled, now fall sports are in jeopardy, not having State playoffs is a big blow.”

“It’s disappointing. It’s tough, it’s any word you’d use to describe it,” back-to-back Class D State Champion Clymer-Sherman-Panama head coach Ty Harper said. “I hope that at some point, we can get back out on the field, whether it’s in September, or I saw the contingency plan for the spring if that were to happen, I just hope for the kids sake that we can get back out on the field.”

They say they’re preparing to implement a condensed season schedule in January 2021 if high school sports remain prohibited throughout 2020 due to COVID-19.

Officials tell News 4 the decision comes at the recommendation of the NYSPHAA COVID-19 Task Force.

“As the state considers reopening, it is unrealistic to believe athletic seasons can start on August 24th as originally scheduled,” NYSPHSAA President Paul Harrica said. “The priority will continue to be on the educational process and a return to learning in the safest way possible.”

The new start date for fall sports will be Monday, September 21.

“I feel like everyone is a little disappointed, but we’re going to try and put that silver lining on it and once we get some more answers and really try to cement what we’ve done already, hopefully we’ll get to put the season together, whether it’s in the fall or if it gets pushed all the way to the spring,” South Park head football coach Tim Delaney said.

“While it is nice to have a date, it doesn’t really give us anything about when we can start getting together with our guys again,” Clymer-Sherman-Panama head football coach Ty Harper said. “I think that’s the most frustrating thing for coaches across Western New York and across the state really. We want to see our guys, and the kids want to see each other too. Hopefully we get some information on that sooner rather than later.”

Other decisions made by NYSPHSAA Officers include waiving seven-day practice rules, maintaining current practice requirements, encouraging geographic scheduling for games and contests, and schools would have the option, if permitted by state officials, to offer off-season conditioning workouts.

The NYSPHSAA says schools and areas will be impacted differently by the COVID-19 crisis. At the discretion of the officers, and authorization from state officials, if fall sports are interrupted or impacted by the pandemic, a condensed seasons plan will be implemented.

For more details on the condensed season plan, click here.

Troy Licastro is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here.

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