High school state athletic association officials in Pennsylvania and New Jersey expressed hope Wednesday for a spring sports season in spite of the coronavirus outbreak.
In Pennsylvania, officials still haven’t closed the door on the possibility of finishing the winter season, including the boys’ and girls’ state basketball tournaments.
“We’re in a holding pattern,” Robert Lombardi, executive director of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, said in a telephone interview. “It’s wait and see, depending on guidance from the governor’s office, the department of health, and the department of education.”
Lombardi did not rule out the possibility of restarting the state basketball tournaments, which were suspended March 12 after teams had advanced to the quarterfinal rounds. That means teams would need to win three more games to capture a state championship.
“It’s April 1,” Lombardi said. “We still have time to consider different scenarios, again based on the guidance that we receive. The health and well-being of our students and the sports communities is priority one.”
During a conference call on Monday, the PIAA took “no action” on spring sports or the possible restart of the winter season, according to a statement from the organization.
New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association executive director Larry White said on a conference call with the organization’s executive committee on Wednesday that plans are in place for an abbreviated spring season, including state championship competition.
Unlike Pennsylvania, New Jersey canceled its basketball tournaments, with most teams just one or two games away from capturing a state championship.
“We have not given up hope” of having a spring sports season, White said. “The reality is what it is, and we must carry on.”
High schools in both states could remain closed at least through the end of April because of state and federal recommendations and guidelines.
NJSIAA assistant director Tony Maselli said organization officials have met three times to map out various scenarios for staging spring sports.
“These discussions are ongoing,” Maselli said. “There may come a time when it’s no longer feasible, when school districts say they don’t want to be bothered because it’s too late.
“But we’re not at that point yet. Right now, we are not considering canceling spring sports.”
Maselli said consideration has been given to pushing the end of the season later into June. The season currently is scheduled to end on June 13, with the state baseball championships, the track and field Meet of Champions and the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse Tournament of Champions title games.
Maselli said the NJSIAA likely would wait until mid- or late May to make a decision to cancel spring sports if competition has not begun by then.
NJSIAA officials have discussed extending the spring season into July, which has been advocated by some coaches and student athletes. By law, the New Jersey school year ends June 30.
“We’re not even sure if we can do it legally,” Maselli said.
In Pennsylvania, Lombardi was reluctant to discuss final dates for staging the spring sports season or restarting the basketball state tournaments as well as the Class 2A swimming championships, which also were suspended.
The PIAA spring season currently is scheduled to end with the baseball and softball championships, with title games at Penn State on June 12.
“We haven’t made any decisions,” Lombardi said. “So many of these questions are ‘what if?’ and I’m reluctant to get into those things. We have a wait-and-see approach to this.