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WIAA moves forward with fall sports while adjusting winter and spring calendars

08/14/2020, 4:30pm CDT
By Travis Wilson

At Friday's regularly-scheduled WIAA Board of Control meeting, the Association moved forward with fall sports offerings, which begin on Monday with "low risk" sports of cross country, girls golf, girls tennis, and girls swim & dive beginning practice. The "higher risk" sports of volleyball, football, and boys soccer remain scheduled to begin practices the week of September 7th.

With recent decisions by high school associations in neighboring states Minnesota and Illinois as well as the Big Ten and WIAC to delay or cancel fall sports, there was some concern that the WIAA's plan, passed just three weeks ago, could be in jeopardy.

However, the Association moves forward, with additional Return-to-Play guidelines in place and with the support of the group's Sports Medical Advisory Committee. 

Sports Medical Advisory Committee member Dr. Tim McGuine of UW Health again outlined the significant mental health challenges facing student-athletes as a result of the school closures and sports shutdowns as a result of the pandemic, arguing that the benefits of returning to play outweigh the risk.

McGuine cited an observational study of a youth soccer organization in the San Diego area that encompassed 6,560 players and 263 coaches participating in more than 143,000 soccer sessions. There were only 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with no evidence of transmission within the teams.

While the fall sports option continues forward, the WIAA outlined plans for those schools that postpone fall sports and wish to pursue a spring option. Presented with multiple proposals by the Executive Staff, the Board voted to approve what was titled the "Alt Fall Option-Spring/Winter Reduced" plan.

Under this plan, schools can choose to proceed as planned with fall sports. Or, they can opt to postpone fall sports into the spring, where there will be reduced seasons available for those sports.

All schools will see the schedules and calendars for winter and spring sports adjusted as a result. While the maximum number of regular season games as well as the length of the postseason for those sports is unchanged, the total number of weeks is reduced, with the winter sports tournaments moved up two to three weeks depending on the sport. 

After winter sports are completed, the adjusted fall sports seasons would take place, to be followed by spring sports, with start dates pushed back four to five weeks. Spring sports would again have the same number of contests available and postseason weeks, but the total season would be contested in a shorter window, with the playoffs pushed back several weeks, depending on the sport.

While some of the fall-to-spring sports will have an option for some kind of culminating event (not to be confused with a state playoff), football teams that play in the spring will be limited to just seven regular season games.

A survey provided by the Wisconsin Athletic Director's Association showed that 76% of schools still intend to offer the "low risk" sports in the fall, with 83% indicating they will maintain the fall option for "high risk" sports.

The full calendar and schedule for the new four-season hybrid model can be found here. Also, a chart of the original start dates, season dates, and postseason dates can be found below.

The WIAA passed a number of other accommodations as a result of the ongoing pandemic, including:

  • September 1st deadline to declare if schools will participate in the fall or move to spring, to help facilitate scheduling
  • Teams can switch after September 1st and up to 50% of their season has been completed, except for football, where teams will be given the ability to play a total of seven games between fall and spring
  • The WIAA will determine the "culminating event" for each sport 30 days prior to the end of the season; this could be a bracketed playoff, regional matchups, or other options
  • Officials who do not work this year will not be downgraded in their levels
  • Provided scheduling relief to allow teams more flexibility to adjust conferences
  • Reduced postseason regional groupings, with football going to just four teams (if a postseason is held) while all other sports would be reduced to eight
  • Elimination of the minimum number of competitions that must be held in order to qualify for the postseason
  • Adjustment of the non-school competition rule to allow athletes to compete in up to two "events" (which can count a multi-game tournament as one event) instead of just two contests
  • Seeding meetings will be held remotely via video conferencing
  • Out of state travel and multi-school events are discouraged, though not outright prohibited; the emphasis is on schools traveling to Florida, Las Vegas, California, etc., not on stopping schools near state borders from playing against neighboring states
  • 5th quarter/extra innings/extra periods waivers are available to get more competition in while traveling
  • Teams that are eliminated from the state playoffs can schedule additional games, as long as they do not exceed regular season game limits
  • Emergency approval can be granted for co-ops as a result of lower numbers of loss of another co-op school
  • Teams that did not complete their five unrestricted coach contact days in the summer can now use any remaining days during the school year, but outside their sport season and a one-week dead period prior to that season

The situation remains fluid and there could be further impacts or guidelines provided, but a continued path forward for high school sports is in place.

2020-21 Adjusted Season Dates

FB – Fall* Ggolf – Fall* Gtennis – Fall* Gswim – Fall* Bsocc – Fall* BXC – Fall* GXC – Fall* BVB – Fall* GVB – Fall* Wrestle Bhockey Ghockey Gbask Bbask Bswim Gym FB – Spring Ggolf – Spring Gtennis – Spring Gswim – Spring Bsocc – Spring BXC – Spring GXC – Spring BVB – Spring GVB – Spring T&F SB Base Btennis Bgolf Gsoccer
Original practice start Sept. 7 Aug. 17 Aug. 17 Aug. 17 Sept. 7 Aug. 17 Aug. 17 Sept. 7 Sept. 7 Nov. 16 Nov. 9 Nov. 9 Nov. 9 Nov. 16 Nov. 16 Nov. 9 Sept. 7 Aug. 17 Aug. 17 Aug. 17 Sept. 7 Aug. 17 Aug. 17 Sept. 7 Sept. 7 March 8 March 15 March 15 March 29 April 5 March 22
New Practice start Sept. 7 Aug. 17 Aug. 17 Aug. 17 Sept. 7 Aug. 17 Aug. 17 Sept. 7 Sept. 7 Nov. 23 Nov. 16 Nov. 16 Nov. 16 Nov. 23 Nov. 23 Nov. 16 March 8 March 29 March 8 Feb. 15 March 22 March 15 March 15 Feb. 22 Feb. 22 April 19 April 19 April 19 May 3 April 19 April 26
Original games start Sept. 24 Aug. 20 Aug. 21 Aug. 25 Sept. 15 Aug. 25 Aug. 25 Sept. 15 Sept. 15 Nov. 27 Nov. 20 Nov. 20 Nov. 17 Nov. 24 Nov. 24 Dec. 3 Sept. 24 Aug. 20 Aug. 21 Aug. 25 Sept. 15 Aug. 25 Aug. 25 Sept. 15 Sept. 15 March 16 March 23 March 23 April 2 April 8 March 30
New games start Sept. 24 Aug. 20 Aug. 21 Aug. 25 Sept. 15 Aug. 25 Aug. 25 Sept. 15 Sept. 15 Nov. 30 Nov. 30 Nov. 30 Nov. 24 Dec. 1 Dec. 1 Dec. 10 March 25 April 1 March 15 Feb. 22 March 29 March 22 March 22 April 2 April 2 April 27 April 27 April 27 May 7 April 22 May 4
Original regular season end Nov. 6 Sept. 29 Oct. 4 Nov. 5 Oct. 19 Oct. 22 Oct. 22 Oct. 22 Oct. 22 Feb. 12 Feb. 15 Feb. 15 Feb. 22 March 1 Feb. 9 Feb. 24 Nov. 6 Sept. 29 Oct. 4 Nov. 5 Oct. 19 Oct. 22 Oct. 22 Oct. 22 Oct. 22 May 22 May 19 May 19 May 22 May 31 June 1
New regular season end Nov. 6 Sept. 29 Oct. 4 Nov. 5 Oct. 19 Oct. 22 Oct. 22 Oct. 22 Oct. 22 Jan. 29 Feb. 1 Feb. 1 Feb. 8 Feb. 15 Jan. 26 Feb. 17 May 7 May 15 April 24 April 3 May 15 May 1 May 1 April10 April10 June 19 June 9 June 9 June 12 June 12 June 15
Original start of postseason Nov. 13 Sept. 30 Oct. 5 Nov. 6 Oct. 20 Oct. 23 Oct. 23 Oct. 23 Oct. 23 Feb. 13 Feb. 16 Feb. 16 Feb. 23 March 2 Feb. 12 Feb. 25 Nov. 13 Sept. 30 Oct. 5 Nov. 6 Oct. 20 Oct. 23 Oct. 23 Oct. 23 Oct. 23 May 24 May 20 May 20 May 24 June 1 June 2
New start of postseason Nov. 13 Sept. 30 Oct. 5 Nov. 6 Oct. 20 Oct. 23 Oct. 23 Oct. 23 Oct. 23 Jan. 30 Feb. 2 Feb. 2 Feb. 9 Feb. 16 Jan. 29 Feb. 18 N/A May 17 April 26 April 5 May 17 May 3 May 3 April 12 April 12 June 22 June 10 June 10 June 14 June 14 June 16
Original state tournament Nov. 19-20 Oct. 12-13 Oct. 15-17/23-24 Nov. 13-14 Nov. 5-7 Oct. 31 Oct. 31 Nov. 5-7 Nov. 5-7 Feb. 25-27/March 6-7 March 4-6 March 4-6 March 11-13 March 18-20 Feb. 19-20 March 5-6 Nov. 19-20 Oct. 12-13 Oct. 15-17/23-24 Nov. 13-14 Nov. 5-7 Oct. 31 Oct. 31 Nov. 5-7 Nov. 5-7 June 4-5 June 10-12 June 10-12 June 3-5/11-12 June 18-19 June 15-17
New state tournament Nov. 19-20 Oct. 12-13 Oct. 15-17/23-24 Nov. 13-14 Nov. 5-7 Oct. 31 Oct. 31 Nov. 5-7 Nov. 5-7 Feb. 11-13/19-20 Feb. 18-20 Feb. 18-20 Feb. 25-27 March 4-6 Feb. 5-6 Feb. 26-27 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A July 2-3 July 1-3 July 1-3 June 21 June 17 June 29-July 1

* - Dates listed for the fall sports are the adjusted dates approved by the WIAA at July's Board of Control meeting

Specific dates for tournaments as well as start and end dates could change slightly within the given week based on WIAA decision

About the Author

Travis Wilson serves as the WisSports.net General Manager, Football Editor, and contributing writer for other parts of the site. Wilson was selected as part of the Sports 40 Under 40 list by Coach & AD Magazine and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for 2019. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) named Travis the 2015 recipient of the Dave McClain Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the WFCA Executive Board as the Website and Communications Director and is a member of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. A graduate of Richland Center High School and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Travis was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball, basketball) and currently resides in Reedsburg. You can follow him on Twitter at @travisWSN.

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