PIAA moving forward with fall sports as scheduled

Wednesday, July 15, 2020 | 5:14 PM

The PIAA won’t cancel or delay fall sports, for now.

The board of directors met online Wednesday and agreed to keep the start dates as scheduled, including Aug. 10 for football’s heat acclimatization period. Some neighboring states already delayed their fall seasons, but the PIAA won’t follow their lead, PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said.

“It was the consensus of the committee to stay the course,” he said.

Practices start Aug. 17.

Lombardi made it clear that the PIAA wants sports to be played this fall despite challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic. So at this time, the biggest threat to that happening would be a shutdown order from Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, he said.

“You heard loud and clear from the board, we want to grab as much as we can,” Lombardi said. “We want to get kids moving. We want kids to be kids. We want them to do what they want to do. It’s important for us to be advocates for them.

“We would hope that the governor’s office, the Department of Health and the Department of Ed would look very close at the whole school environment so that we don’t shut down without giving everybody full consideration.”

The PIAA scheduled another board meeting July 29.

Lombardi said the PIAA took note of colleges altering their fall sports plans, including an announcement earlier Wednesday by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. However, those moves shouldn’t influence PIAA decisions, Lombardi said, noting that college athletics face concerns high schools do not.

“We are different than college athletics,” Lombardi said.

While the PIAA isn’t anticipating a season-wide shutdown in the fall, Lombardi acknowledged that some sports — particularly individual sports — have an easier path to competition than others. As a result, the PIAA could take a sport-by-sport approach if needed.

Along with football, PIAA fall sports are boys and girls cross country, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls golf, girls tennis, girls field hockey and girls volleyball.

“As everybody knows, the elephant in the room is football and we all understand that,” Lombardi said. “We’re going to give our darned-best efforts to get something in.”

Wolf announced new covid-19 mitigation efforts Wednesday, including a limit of 25 persons at indoor gatherings. That shouldn’t be an issue for PIAA schools during offseason workouts, Lombardi said.

Along with a sport-by-sport approach, the PIAA could use a region-by-region plan based on the reported cases of covid-19.

“If one area of the state could possibly play 75% of the schedule and the other part could only play 25%, the board’s OK with that,” Lombardi said. “We want kids to get as much as they possibly can where they can. The questions that then have to be discussed later are, ‘Are you going to look at postseason? Is it going to end at the regular season? Will it end at the district level?’”

Those questions would be answered later.

“We still have time to do that,” Lombardi said. “We’re keeping this a little bit fluid because we’ve seen people step out in other states and put in plans and then get them blown up because of actions from other departments that they have no control over.”

In other business, the PIAA board gave final approval to a plan to reduce the number of wrestling weight classes from 14 to 13. The vote was unanimous.

The PIAA will maintain weight classes 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152 and 160 pounds. However, it will modify the upper weights. Rather than 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285, the PIAA will use 172, 189, 215 and 285.

The move was made to reduce forfeits.


Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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