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IHSA Board votes to move forward with basketball season as planned, defying IDPH and Pritzker

The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors on Wednesday voted to move forward with the basketball season as scheduled, defying a decision announced on Tuesday by Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health that it was putting the high school season on indefinite hold.

IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson was scheduled to meet with statewide athletic directors at a 3 p.m. Zoom call to discuss the decision.

The IHSA held a special board meeting Wednesday morning to act on winter sports, and voted to move forward with basketball in the winter season “despite the IDPH risk change yesterday,” the IHSA announced in an email to athletic directors obtained by Shaw Media.

“The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors made the decision today to continue with the IHSA basketball season as scheduled in 2020-21,” the Board of Directors said in a statement. “In August, the Board slated basketball to take place from November to February based on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) assigning a medium risk level to the sport. The IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offered additional mitigations, such as masks during play and social distancing on benches, that the SMAC believed would allow basketball to be played safely.”

As part of the modified sports plan adopted by the IHSA in late July, practices for the winter sports season are tentatively scheduled to begin on Nov. 16, with the season beginning Nov. 30 and running through Feb. 13.

The IHSA in July announced that it would defer to the IDPH, the Illinois State Board of Education and the governor’s office on all of its return to play guidelines going forward. This came after the high school sports governing body was named a defendant in a lawsuit that aimed to roll back the IHSA’s return to play guidelines.

Pritzker and the IDPH on Tuesday announced that it was moving basketball from the “medium” to “higher” risk category for sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, and putting the season on an indefinite hold.

In a statement Tuesday, Anderson said the IHSA received the news “about 15 minutes” prior to Pritzker’s news conference.

“After diligent discussion, the Board has made the decision today to follow the recommendation of the IHSA SMAC as it relates to basketball,” the Board said in the statement. “The Board remains considerate of rising COVID-19 cases in Illinois and understand the importance of adhering to safety guidelines for the good of all citizens.

“However, the Board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization nationally or internationally. On the contrary, the IHSA has been looking to bordering states who have sponsored both medium risk and high risk sports in the fall that have noted a low incident rate of COVID-19 spread.”

At its meeting the Board of Directors also voted to move wrestling to the summer season (April 19-June 26) and voted to approve low risk sports such as boys swimming and diving, cheerleading, dance, boys and girls bowling and girls gymnastics as planned. Mitigations for those sports will be posted later this week, and sent to coaches and ADs once available.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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