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IHSA has hopes for spring season; admits further delay would likely force a cancellation

In a statement released on April 1, the Illinois High School Association remains optimistic of a May 1 return to school.

"Even though Illinois schools will remain closed through April 30 following the March 31 announcement by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, we remain optimistic that a May 1 return to school, followed by a to-be-determined acclimatization practice period, can still result in a truncated spring season that culminates with IHSA state series tournaments and the crowning of state champions in June," the release said. "We encourage all Illinois residents to heed the recommendations of state officials and medical experts. These quarantine and social distancing measures have been put in place not only for your own safety, but also for those around you. By adhering to them, we ensure the shortest path to returning to normalcy, including physical school attendance and participation in high school sports and activities."  

The IHSA Board of Directors has been highly supportive of creating an exemption to the IHSA Season Limitation By-law to allow spring sports to play into late June, but competing into or beyond July is not being considered at this time.

"We are also realistic in recognizing that any further school postponements, or the cessation of physical school attendance for the remainder of the year, will almost certainly result in the cancellation of all remaining IHSA sports and activities this school year," the release said.

The IHSA also put out a list of questions to frequently asked questions during the COVID-19 lockdown.



Q: Are schools ok to resume practice/games on May 1?

A: May 1 is the target date, however, there are state governmental, educational and health bodies that will need to approve this action as we get closer to it. It is too early to say definitively that IHSA activities will resume on May 1. Coaches will ultimately need to work in conjunction with their local school administration, as some school districts may choose to be more restrictive in their decisions to return teams to practice or games.


Q: Will spring sport state tournaments be conducted on their normal dates after a shortened season, or rescheduled later in June or July?

A: At this time, we are monitoring the updates from state educators and health professionals on the best practices related to COVID-19. If the May 1 deadline appears to be on-schedule in the coming days and weeks, we will communicate an appropriate plan on spring sports to our member schools. It is important to remember this is an unprecedented situation and will remain fluid. It is possible, for example, that schools may reopen at some point, but that other gatherings (like sports) may remain limited.


Q: Can a student-athlete who is competing in a spring sport (baseball, softball, track, etc.) for their high school practice or play that sport with their non-school team, of the same sport, (i.e. travel or club team) while school is closed?

A: No. IHSA by-laws do not allow a student-athlete who is in-season to participate on a club or travel team, of the same sport, and then return to play for their high school team. If a student-athlete in this situation chooses to participate with their non-school team during the school closure, they would not be able to return to their high school team if/when the high school season resumes.


Q: Can a student-athlete who is competing in a spring sport (baseball, softball, track, etc.) for their high school practice or play a fall or winter sport (i.e. basketball or girls volleyball) with their non-school team (i.e. travel or club team) while school is closed?

A: Yes. IHSA by-laws allow a student-athlete to participate on a non-school team if that sport is not currently in-season at the high school level.


Q: Can a spring sport student-athlete take personal lessons while school is closed? Can the personal lessons be taught by their high school coach?

A: Personal lessons are permitted throughout the school year and during the summer. The high school coach may provide personal lessons only if this is part of his/her livelihood and provided to students other than just those attending the high school where he/she coaches.


Q: Can personal lessons be taught by their non-school team coach, and can they occur at the non-school team facility?

A: Yes. As long as the personal lessons are not part of a non-school team practice or competition. Additionally, neither the high school coach nor the school can require or arrange for their student- athletes to receive personal lessons from a non-school coach. Any such lessons should be limited to two players from one high school at a single lesson.


Q: If the spring sports are unable to be conducted this year, or if a student has to repeat a grade for any reason, including related to the COVID-19 school closing, will student-athletes receive an additional year of eligibility?

A: No. Students have eight semesters of eligibility that begin when they enter ninth grade.


Q: During the mandated school closure time frame, can a student-athlete compete in a non-school event that uses the skill of the sport of an IHSA sport that is currently in season?

A: The student-athlete's athletic director or official representative of their school can complete the Non-School Competition Request Form through their IHSA Schools Center account, and the IHSA will either grant or deny permission. In order for permission to be granted, the IHSA request form must be submitted by the athletic director or official representative at least 10 days prior to the event, the event must be sanctioned by an IHSA approved national governing body or its Illinois affiliate or junior affiliate (i.e. USATF), and the student-athlete may only have received IHSA approval for less than three other non-school events for this sports season.


Q: During this time of mandated school closures, can schools organize virtual competitions in sports or activities where athletes/participants compete by recording their individual performances?

A: No. Schools cannot organize competitions of any type during this time.


Q: During this time, can a school coach provide guidance on the types of workouts and skills that individuals from their team can complete on a voluntary basis?

A: Yes. This is allowed as long as coaches aren't requiring individuals from their team to practice the skills or complete the workouts.


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