CIAC executive director Glenn Lugarini is “confident” that there will be a fall sports season, but right now, he doesn’t think it will start on time in August.
The current start date for football is Aug. 17, with the other fall sports to start its practice schedules later in the month. The regular season begins in September. All decisions are dependent upon when schools reopen.
“I’m personally confident we will have athletics in some way in the fall. At the beginning, it could look different than in the past. We could start without fans. There are so many things to look at, like more regional play than league play and transportation,” Lungarini said. “Right now, from the information we have, I think the start of the fall most likely will be impacted. I don’t think schools will be open by Aug. 17.
“We have to keep in context the primary focus is schools getting prepared for instruction. Once that is determined, we can look at what athletics will be like. At this point, we don’t believe sports in the fall will start on time.”
Schools have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Ned Lamont officially closed schools for the remainder of the academic year Tuesday. Connecticut then became the last state in the country to officially cancel its spring high school sports season Tuesday.
The CIAC Board of Control met Thursday morning and unanimously approved some rules changes for this summer only. The biggest was allowing virtual out-of-season coaching for all fall and winter sports beginning June 1. This will include skill instruction as well as conditioning.
Currently, spring sports coaches can continue their virtual sessions with athletes until the end of May. If the governor’s office allows summer sports to resume, then those can continue through Aug. 17.
“Usually, you are not allowed to give skill-specific instruction. You wouldn’t be allowed to break out game film, watch video of kids taking swings or shooting foul shots. You would only be allowed to do conditioning,” Lungarini said. “I think this is significant for coaches. We recognize that this all has been emotionally impactful on the kids, nothing like they have experienced in school. The interaction with their peers, teachers and coaches has significantly changed. The relationship between a coach and a player is some of the strongest relationships that exist.”
Also, any student-athlete receiving an incomplete in this final marking period of the school year will be considered a passing grade through the fall’s first marking period, making him or her eligible to play in the fall. Normally, you cannot participate with an incomplete grade.
The last change made for this summer only regards transfers. If someone had transferred between CIAC schools and was supposed to sit out half of the regular season in the spring, they are immediately eligible to play in the fall. That transfer needs to have already been processed by the CIAC office.
Normally, the Board of Control wouldn’t meet again until late August. But Lungarini said one has been scheduled for June 29 to “continue to work on guidelines for the resocialization of sports” and further look at the fall season. Right now, Lungarini said the CIAC “has had no guidance yet for summer sports,” a decision that will come from the governor’s office.
The re-opening of the state is scheduled to begin in four phases on May 20.
With the colder weather in the fall comes the return of flu season and the possible resurgence of the coronavirus. That could lead to schools possibly closing again and an abrupt end to the fall sports season.
“As we continue to plan for scenarios, we need to look at late-start scenarios and need to look at early-end scenarios as well,” Lungarini said. “If there is a flare-up, if complications arise into next flu season, we have to be prepared for how the season will need to be adjusted.”
When asked whether there was any chance of the regular season starting early, Lungarini responded, “There is no chance of starting in August.”
In other news, due to the school closures, the basketball showcases that the CIAC was going to hold for both boys and girls this summer have been canceled. The Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven was scheduled to host both, the boys in late June and the girls in late July.
Lungarini said the CIAC plans to host both showcases next year.