STEVENS POINT — A proposal brought to the WIAA by a group of schools in southwest Wisconsin could alter the upcoming sports seasons in an effort to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan would push the upcoming fall sports season to the spring of 2021, while then bumping the spring sports season to the summer. According to Travis Wilson, a member of both the Wisconsin football and basketball coaches association executive boards, the WIAA Board of Control could discuss and even vote on the proposal as early as next week.
The proposal came from the Cooperative Education Service Agency (CESA) No. 3, which includes 31 school districts — including Argyle, Black Hawk, Darlington, Pecatonica and Shullsburg, and is headed by Jamie Nutter of Fennimore.
“We’ve just been told to talk to our coaches about what could go on,” said Molly Rice, Darlington’s athletic director and girls golf and softball coach. “It’s a time to be flexible to do what’s best for our students, coaches, schools and administrators.”
Fall sports seasons are currently expected to open practices in early August, with football practices eligible to begin Aug. 3.
Waunakee, a state football powerhouse, announced July 13 that it would cancel its two nonconference games and instead play just seven conference games in the Badger Large. The Big Eight Conference football coaches, which consists of Madison area schools, has sent a proposal to its athletic directors to move to a conference-only football season this fall. In college football, the Big Ten, which includes Wisconsin, announced it would have a conference-only schedule this fall.
Monroe Athletic Director Jeff Newcomer said he has heard some discussion on the matter, “but nothing that seems to be happening” at the conference level.
“All options have been mentioned at some point or another, but no decisions have been made, nor is a single plan being voted on,” Newcomer said. “At least not that I know of.”
This upcoming fall, Monroe moves to the Rock Valley Conference for football as part of the WIAA’s massive state-wide conference realignment.
“I have told my coaches to plan on your current schedule and current start dates until it changes,” Newcomer said.
The pandemic shut down the WIAA’s basketball postseason in mid-March, and eventually led to the cancellation of the spring sports season.
According to Wilson, the winter sports season would be the first of the school year. Currently, winter sports begin practices in November, but there is potential to push that to January. The three sports seasons would then likely be shortened. The fall season would begin in March, with the spring season opening in late May and running through July.
“This (proposal) would give our student-athletes the best chance to be able to play all three seasons this year. It’s a tough decision to make, and the pandemic makes it a unique case. There’s no real blanket solution,” Newcomer said, adding that he isn’t optimistic that the entire fall season would be played without a hitch as plans currently sit. “We’re running out of time, so it would be nice to know.”