No guarantee spring sports are played, but WPIAL discusses ‘what if’ scenarios

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Monday, March 16, 2020 | 12:56 PM


The WPIAL board discussed contingency plans for spring sports season behind closed doors Monday, but “anything at this point is uncertain,” associate executive director Amy Scheuneman said.

She called them “what-if” scenarios.

All of Pennsylvania’s schools were closed Monday to start a two-week shutdown ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf, so for now, it’s impossible to say whether baseball, softball or any other spring sport athletes will practice or compete in the coming weeks.

“We’re going to keep every hope that we can, that we’ll have something, but I certainly cannot guarantee it,” Scheuneman said after the WPIAL board met in Green Tree.

The spring season was scheduled to start Friday, but that’s no longer an option. The WPIAL and PIAA each issued statements pledging their organizational support behind Wolf’s efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus in the state.

At the earliest, the school closure would end March 30, before which teams aren’t allowed to compete or practice.

“We’re going to honor what the governor has to say,” Scheuneman said. “So during a mandated shutdown, schools and sports will be shut down. We’re going to continue that until we know that it’s safe. Until the governor gives us some other direction, at this point, we’re going to follow that mandate.”

As of Monday night, the Pennsylvania Department of Health counted 76 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state.

Neither the WPIAL nor the PIAA has set a deadline for the latest date spring sports could start, she said. Some schools already announced closures into mid-April, which could impact plans.

Until then, teams must wait.

“As we move forward, PIAA will continue to work with the Governor’s office, the Department of Health and the Department of Education to provide updated information regarding spring sports and any possible restart of the winter championships,” the PIAA said in a statement. “This information may change on a day-to-day basis and some of the qualities that are fundamental lessons of interscholastic athletics are at play here: cooperation, patience, sacrifice, responsibility, respect and teamwork.”

The WPIAL emphasized teams aren’t allowed to work out together on campus or off. The PIAA statement said it became aware some teams were organizing informal offsite workouts.

“The gatherings themselves are contrary to what the state is trying to accomplish,” Scheuneman said of efforts to limit group sizes and encourage social distancing.

“If we have a team coming together in an offsite location, you don’t know if it’s clean or not clean. Or if the people are (infected). It’s absolutely contrary to what they have requested.”

Scheuneman said the WPIAL board discussed scenarios should the state lift restrictions, but those contingency plans won’t be shared publicly at this time. Spring sports include baseball, softball, lacrosse, boys volleyball, boys tennis and track.

“Say some miracle happens where March 30 everybody comes back and is in session, then we have some contingency plans,” Scheuneman said.

She suggested Friday that the options could be wide-ranging, from playing only a half season to cancelling the postseason or organizing an open tournament, among other possibilities. But any decisions would be made only after guidance from the PIAA.

“Everything has been looked at and talked about,” Scheuneman said. “From our standpoint, everything is on the table until it’s taken off. … But that’s something that’s so far down the line right now.”

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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