The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s Board of Control discussed a calendar for the rest of the school year on Thursday, but the uncertainty of how the COVID-19 pandemic might progress kept them from deciding anything about that calendar.
And since spring sports didn’t compete at all in 2020, the board still wants to give them as substantial a season as possible, CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini said.
“The board didn’t make any motions,” Lungarini said. “Today was discussing various scenarios and trying to think them through.”
The board will hold a special meeting on Jan. 7 to discuss more, with a regular meeting a week later.
The start of the winter season was already delayed until Jan. 19. An alternative season, for tackle football and potentially other sports that couldn’t complete a substantial season, was originally to begin practices Feb. 22 and wrap up by April.
“The start date for winter remains Jan. 19,” Lungarini said, “and the commitment of the board remains to have as little impact on spring season as possible.
“Everything else is dependent — no one is playing sports until Jan. 19, so we really can’t move forward with any definitive action until we get through December and know what the position of the governor’s office and (Department of Public Health) is.”
The CIAC was the first state governing body to suspend athletics due to the pandemic, canceling the remainder of its winter 2020 postseason on March 10.
The CIAC announced on Nov. 17 that winter sports practice wouldn’t start until mid-January. Two days later, the state prohibited team sports and out-of-state sports travel at the youth and club level entirely for two months.
On Nov. 5, the CIAC had said that the winter season would be delayed, and hours after that, Gov. Ned Lamont, the state Department of Public Health and the Department of Economic and Community Development said that sports deemed higher-risk for transmitting the novel coronavirus — which in the winter includes wresting, competitive cheer and dance — couldn’t compete the rest of the calendar year.
Under the CIAC’s initial planning framework for winter, the season would have been shortened and shifted earlier than in a normal year: Practices were to start Nov. 21 with games beginning Dec. 7 and tournaments ending Feb. 21. Practice for the alternative season would’ve started the next day, with a regular spring season to follow in April.
The CIAC initially resisted an alternative season, but when it upheld in mid-September its decision to call off tackle football for the fall, it opened the door to a shift to early spring for any sport that didn’t substantially complete a season. Approval for that came on Sept. 29.
That decision came after the DPH declined to recommend playing during the pandemic, with Lamont urging a shift to spring, when, the hope was, vaccines and better treatments for COVID-19 might be available.
Two independent football leagues, involving at least 26 teams, played a few games before the state shut down higher-risk sports.