ALBEMARLE — On May 12, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) told its membership that the coronavirus-induced dead period would expire on June 1, allowing summer workouts to possibly resume.
Those plans have since changed.
At a May 26 press conference, NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker announced that the Board of Directors unanimously decided at a meeting a day prior to extend the dead period through at least June 15.
“Precautions are being added and revised to be sure we are doing all we can from a health and safety perspective to limit the spread of the virus,” Tucker said, confirming that the Board of Directors and the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) are finalizing Phase 2 plans for the return to summer athletic events.
“It is the goal of the NCHSAA to provide these guidelines for a safe return to our member schools in advance to allow LEAs (local education agencies) appropriate amounts of time to implement check-in and check-out procedures for workouts, providing screening for COVID-19 and education to coaches relative to how to maintain appropriate social distancing while providing students an opportunity to resume conditioning and training activities with their teammates,” Tucker added.
Tucker stated that the NCHSAA will allow conditioning and drills for sports (but no contact in football workouts) to resume on June 15 but that from there, local and state government officials – and LEAs – will have the say on when exactly workouts can actually begin.
According to the NCHSAA, coaches will need time to set up sanitary hydration practices and workouts as well as collect an appropriate amount of materials: sanitizer, gloves, masks and cleaning supplies.
“It is always our goal to protect the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and communities represented by our schools,” Tucker said, also noting “it would be the goal for the stands to be as full as they have always been on a Friday night in every football community.”
The press conference also addressed a financial question that has been asked – how much money has the NCHSAA lost because of having to cancel spring sports and state basketball finals?
Tucker confirmed it has been an 8 to 10 percent drop-off thus far and that the possibility of having to modify the next football season would make a sizeable dent in finances; moving the football season back would be saved as a last resort.
“To not play football would be very tough, but we’re not at the point where we are folding up the tent on football for this fall and we are hopeful to have some fans,” Tucker said. “We don’t think it is even wise to begin talking about moving sports seasons right now.”
The commissioner said it will be “critical” for coaches to provide examples of the right behavior for social distancing for their players since the NCHSAA is ultimately education-based athletics.