The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association approved several details of a one-year alternative season in the spring for fall sports and reduced the number of weeks for sports during the 2020–21 winter and spring seasons at its August meeting last week.
The alterative fall sports season in the spring is anticipated to be used mostly by large schools in the southern part of the state. There will be overlapping dates with spring and winter sports for schools using the alterative fall format. Schools that play sports this fall will have some unusually large time gaps between winter and spring sports schedules.
Local schools are moving ahead with the usual fall sports calendar; however, the start date for several sports was pushed back. The sports of girls’ golf, girls’ tennis, girls’ swimming and diving and boys’ and girls’ cross country began practice on Monday, Aug. 17.
The Heart O’North, for now, is planning on playing sports this fall with conference games only.
The board established the parameters and context of the alternate fall season with seven weeks of competition in the spring. Football programs unable to start or complete 50 percent of the fall season, including games and practices, are eligible for a prorated alternate season. Other fall sports unable to start or complete 50 percent of the fall season, including games and practices, are eligible for a complete alternate season. Fall sports programs exceeding 50 percent of their seasons will be considered a completed season.
For planning and scheduling purposes, schools will be required to initially declare if they plan to participate in the traditional fall season or the alternate fall season in the spring by Tuesday, Sept. 1. Athletic directors at member schools will receive an email with a link to the online form to declare their intentions.
The revised sports calendar replaces the existing 2020–21 season calendars and identifies—in addition to an alternate fall season in the spring with seven weeks of competition—a period of no coaching contact prior to the start of the respective sport seasons; an acclimatization or practice period before the first allowed competition; and the designated number of weeks for the winter and spring seasons, including any culminating event. The board acknowledges all schedules are subject to change if conditions warrant in accordance with local, state and national health guidelines.
2020–21 fall sports season start, end dates (end dates TBD)
• Boys’ and girls’ cross country: Monday, Aug. 17, through the week of Oct. 26
• Football: Monday, Sept. 7, through the week of Nov. 16; the earliest first game is Wednesday, Sept. 23.
• Girls’ golf: Monday, Aug. 17, through the week of Oct. 12
• Boys’ soccer: Monday, Sept. 7, through the week of Nov. 2
• Girls’ swimming and diving: Monday, Aug. 17, through the week of Nov. 9
• Girls’ tennis: Monday, Aug. 17, through the week of Oct. 19
• Boys’ and girls’ volleyball: Monday, Sept. 7, through the week of Nov. 2
2020–21 winter sports season start, end dates
• Boys’ basketball: Nov. 23 through the week of March 1
• Girls’ basketball: Nov. 16 through the week of Feb. 22
• Gymnastics: Nov. 16 through the week of Feb. 22
• Boys’ and girls’ hockey: Nov. 16 through the week of Feb. 15
• Boys’ swimming and diving: Nov. 23 through the week of Feb. 1
• Wrestling: Nov. 23 through the week of Feb. 15
2020–21 alternate fall sports season start, end dates
• Boys’ and girls’ cross country: March 15 through the week of May 3
• Football: March 8 through the week of May 3; the earliest first game is March 24.
• Girls’ golf: March 29 through the week of May 17
• Boys’ soccer: March 22 through the week of May 10
• Girls’ swimming and diving: Feb. 15 through the week of April 5
• Girls’ tennis: March 8 through the week of April 26
• Boys’ and girls’ volleyball: Feb. 22 through the week of April 12
2020–21 spring sports season start, end dates
• Baseball: April 19 through the week of June 28
• Boys’ golf: April 19 through the week of June 14
• Softball: April 19 through the week of June 28
• Girls’ soccer: April 26 through the week of June 28
• Boys’ tennis: May 3 through the week of June 21
• Boys’ and girls’ track and field: April 19 through the week of June 28
The revised calendar emphasizes the board’s position to accommodate all the sports seasons in 2020–21 with the knowledge that a number of member schools, having already determined interscholastic activities, are not able to be conducted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board also addressed a number of other rules and regulations to be modified or suspended in 2020–21 to provide flexibility to members and licensed officials during the pandemic.
• If tournament series are conducted, regional groupings will be implemented (four teams in football).
• All minimum number of contests’ requirement for tournament eligibility will be suspended in 2020–21.
• All tournament series seeding will be conducted virtually in 2020–21.
• All nonborder out-of-state competitions or practices are strongly discouraged.
• All multiple-team events from outside a host’s region are strongly discouraged.
• Co-op programs that include schools that are unable to participate in activities during 2020–21 may seek other co-op partners to provide opportunities for participation.
• With conference approval, schools whose conference has canceled sports in 2020–21 may seek schedule relief with other conferences as an independent without sanctions or going through the prescribed conference realignment process.
• For 2020–21, programs may schedule contests after they are eliminated from the WIAA tournament or the culminating event respective sport’s revised season.
• Schools unable to conduct their five unrestricted coaching contact days during the 2020 summer may schedule those days during the 2020–21 calendar provided there is one week of no contact prior to the start of the respective season. However, during the closed-session meeting, the board directed staff to have discussions on coaching contact during 2020–21 placed on the agenda of the September meeting.
• Licensed officials will not drop in classification in 2021–22 if they choose not to renew licensure or are unable to fill a varsity schedule in 2020–21.
The board also determined student-athletes may compete in no more than two nonschool events with school approval during each regular sports season in 2020–21 only, which adopts the middle-level regulation. An “event” will be defined as a game or tournament.
The “Return to Fall Sports Considerations” was approved for distribution to the membership and for placement on the COVID-19 page of the WIAA website. Also passed was a recommendation to add language to the Code of Conduct section of the Rules of Eligibility, clarifying how schools respond to allegations of sexual harassment at school or at school-sponsored events.
In other action, the board voted to table a discussion of a request to form another ad hoc committee to review competitive equity, and gave its approval of new appointments to the 2020–21 Coaches Advisory Committees and the Conference Realignment Task Force. In addition, the board authorized the annual renewal of the association’s membership in the National Federation of State High School Associations, the newly created Conference Realignment Task Force Handbook, as well as the editorial modifications to the 2020–21 Media Policies Guide and Administrative Staff Handbook.
Among the other topics discussed were the decision to conduct the 2020 area meetings in September virtually, the initial development of the 2020–21 operational budget, the launching of the COVID-19 Games Wanted web page on the WIAA website and a review of the new AD workshop.