The Inter-Academic Athletic League on Monday announced the decision to delay the start of fall sports because of COVID-19 concerns.

In a statement, the league said teams will continue to hold strength and conditioning activities in fall sports until Aug. 22, at which time athletic programs are expected to suspend activities for two weeks to avoid complicating the planned reopening of schools.

Fall sports practices will begin Sept. 14, with the goal of playing league-only games this season, starting in early October.

“I think this gives us the best chance of having a good fall season,” said Episcopal Academy athletic director and football coach Todd Fairlie. “The feeling within the league is to get schools up and running without worrying about any hiccups that could come from playing sports.”

Football games are expected to start the weekend of Oct. 2-3. Teams will play only league games, with the possibility of matching up against a league rival more than once.

Episcopal Academy football coach Todd Fairlie also is the school's athletic director.
Episcopal Academy football coach Todd Fairlie also is the school's athletic director.

Fairlie said the hope is for football teams to play seven games as well as a preseason scrimmage.

“I’m on board with it,” Malvern Prep football coach Dave Gueriera said. “This is a positive. There has been so much uncertainty. I think this is our best chance to salvage the season.”

Malvern Prep, which features Penn State recruit Lonnie White Jr. as an all-purpose standout and several other top players, was scheduled to play Catholic League teams Roman Catholic, La Salle, and Archbishop Wood in nonleague games that now will be canceled.

The Inter-Ac League is comprised of six schools that compete in boys’ sports — Episcopal Academy, Germantown Academy, Haverford School, Malvern Prep, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and Penn Charter.

In girls’ sports, the league includes Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, Agnes Irwin School, Baldwin School, Episcopal Academy, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and Penn Charter.

In a statement, the league said that game schedules likely would be finalized by the end of the week and that plans could be adjusted as more information and guidance becomes available.

“The League schools will continue to evaluate additional information as it becomes available and utilize this information to alter these plans in the best interest of the safety and welfare of our community,” the league said in an announcement.

In addition, the Inter-Ac League has decided to cancel middle school sports for the fall although most schools are expected to offer intramural competition for their middle-school athletes.