A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

KHSAA board members uphold earlier plan to resume high school fall sports competition in September

By Terry Boehmker
KyForward sports reporter

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control upheld its earlier decision to start full-fledged practice in five fall sports on Monday with competition beginning the week of Sept. 7.

During a virtual meeting on Thursday, the board voted 16-2 in favor of its original plan that affects the sports of football, soccer, volleyball, cross country and field hockey. Golf, the only fall sport not postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, began competition on July 31.

Kentucky high school football teams are scheduled to begin play Sept. 11. (Lexington Christian photo)

There’s no guarantee that the KHSAA plan will be approved by the Kentucky Department of Education, Kentucky Department of Health or the governor’s office. At the start of Thursday’s meeting, KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett told board members, “Nothing today is absolute final in terms of all criteria.”

Gov. Andy Beshear recommended Kentucky schools wait until Sept. 28 to start in-person learning in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. Public school systems across the state are following the governor’s order, but four diocesan school districts started classes this week.

Earlier this week, Jefferson County Public Schools superintendent Marty Pollio suggested the KHSAA will have problems keeping its current plan given Beshear’s recommendation.

After the Board of Control voted against a motion to postpone the first day of sports competition until after all schools are in session, Covington Independent Schools superintendent Alvin Garrison said some local school districts, including his own, may vote not to compete until after Sept. 28.

“We know that there is a desire on the part of public health that we comply with the current recommendation to not start school until the 28th (of September),” Tackett said. “But we also know our local boards of education have independent decision-making authority and some of them are ready to go now. So that’s the challenge that we find ourselves in today.”

Tackett said there will be attendance restrictions and mask requirements for high school sports events. He plans to release outlines for those plans in the coming days.

There were more than 7,000 online viewers for Thursday’s virtual meeting. If the state government does not approve the KHSAA’s current plan, the Board of Control will schedule an emergency meeting to consider alternatives.

The current limits for each sport are 14 games for soccer, 24 matches for volleyball, nine games for football and nine meets for cross country. All of those teams can begin conducting full regular preseason practice sessions on Monday without limitations that were put into place earlier this summer due to the pandemic. Athletes will be limited to 7.5 hours of practice time during the first week.

The board also voted on Thursday to:

•Suspend restrictions so high school students can play basketball for AAU or other non-school teams until the start of high school practice, which for now is set for Oct. 15.

•Approve dance and cheer division declarations deadline until Nov. 9 and schedule cheer competition regionals on the weekends of Jan. 16 and Jan. 23.

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