The Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) Board of Control held its second regularly-scheduled meeting of the 2020-21 academic year Wednesday morning, approving practice and competition dates for the winter sports and sport-activities of basketball, bowling, competitive cheer, dance, swimming and diving, and wrestling.
Bowling is permitted to practice on Nov. 2. Competitive cheer and dance can begin official practice for its seasons this Monday, Sept. 21 with a gradual segmented approach to activity over the next few weeks. Further details will be distributed to the member schools that allow for the resumption. Both competitive cheer and dance have already seen regional championships moved into the new year per the board’s July meeting. In cheer, these segments will further clarify “stunting” which has been restricted during the pandemic and resumption to play.
Additionally, the Board approved clarifications on sideline cheer in that stunting (defined per NFHS rules as “One or more bases support one or more top persons off the performing surface”) can only be done during sideline cheer activities on an appropriate surface and only in skills that are permitted at that time to be practiced by the school’s competitive cheer program.
“As participants in various programs begin to get back to games and competitions, we have to help ensure a healthy transition, and returning in segments ensures an appropriate progression,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “We are thankful that unlike most collegiate games last weekend, our schools seem to take extra steps to be sure that, in a safe manner, these students can remain involved. We want that involvement and despite the fact that national sports medicine authorities don’t consider sideline cheer or other groups as essential to a contest (defining essential individuals for contests as the athletes in the contests, coaches, officials, event staff, medical staff, and security in resumption documents), we have to be sure things are done safely during this ongoing pandemic. A few individuals we have heard from seem to think that you can just pick up where things left off last year, but that is not practical from a health and safety standpoint and based on health data.”
Basketball can begin official practice October 26 with contests allowed to be played on a tentative start date of Nov. 23 in a season already moved earlier than normal for a start due to facility conflicts for planned state events. Swimming and diving and wrestling can start practices on Nov. 2. Swimming and diving will have a total of fourteen (14) competitions beginning Nov. 16 while wrestling can begin its regular-season on Dec. 7 with a limit of sixteen (16) competitions. Interscholastic scrimmages are eliminated in all three sports for this season.
All six sports and sport-activities will have its seasons broken into three segments with restrictions and allowances detailed in the guidance.
“As we have said from day one, this year will likely look different,” said Commissioner Tackett. “As we have resumed fall competition, our staff and our member schools are constantly making notes about enhancements as we do everything possible to help keep these important activities going during the current public health crisis. Some of our schools have some additional work to do in a variety of areas, but we remain very proud of the efforts that our schools are making as they adapt to these challenging times.”
The Board also approved the creation of a semi-state round to help with the many issues caused by COVID-19 for the 2020 State Volleyball Tournament. The 16 volleyball regions would be split with Regions 1-8 and 9-16 having a blind draw for individual first-round matches to be played at host sites. These matches would be scheduled early during the week of the State Tournament.
With the field down to eight teams following the semi-states, the Board directed the Commissioner’s office to then finalize a schedule with appropriate health authorities for the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals which are currently scheduled to be held at Valley High School in Louisville the first week of November.
The distribution of any recommended football alignment changes per enrollment report was approved by the Board. Currently, only one school would change as Sayre has agreed to take a four seed in Class 1A, District 7 for 2020, and would join Hazard, Phelps, and Pikeville in that district for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. A realignment review is next scheduled to be implemented in the 2023 season. In further football news, the Board endorsed the Association to lift the scheduling embargo for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
The Board of Control approved KHSAA staff amendments to its Discrimination and Harassment Policy, including making hate speech an identified problem with specific references to what is hate speech and what is to happen when officials encounter it in contests.
A report on changes to federal Title IX regulation was also accepted. The federally mandated changes now require all secondary schools to designate and authorize one individual to serve as that school’s Title IX Compliance Coordinator but this person must have the authority to address specific compliance issues within the school. In response, the KHSAA will establish the position in the KHSAA online database of Title IX Annual Report Coordinator, which will be separate from the Title IX Coordinator.
The Board accepted a report on officials licensing for 2018-19 and 2019-20 compared to the current academic year. The Association has gotten reports that several officials are sitting out this year due to being in an at-risk category, but there has been an increase in college students becoming licensed.
In other action Wednesday, the Board:
- Approved an allowance for competition on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the State Cross Country Championships depending on facility issues and availability. The available dates will give the Association options to address crowd control, the time between races, and sanitation.
- Accepted a report on the State Golf Championships with plans that continue to permit a field of 144 golfers to advance to state.
- Heard a report on the NFHS Pixxelot Camera donation program for new School Broadcast Program schools. At least 30 additional KHSAA schools have implemented the cameras into their live streams so far in addition to more than 55 schools that were already members of the NFHS Network School Broadcast program.
- Accepted a motion to tentatively accept the membership application for Cornerstone Preparatory School in Madisonville pending review by designated KHSAA staff.
- Accepted a report on disqualification reports when comparing 2018-19 to 2019-20. Given the fact that there were no spring sports, 88 schools had zero disqualifications in the 19-20 season, up from 58 the previous year.
- Heard a report on eSports that the relationship with PlayVS is going well as they listened to member schools who may want to opt-out of certain games and made that possible. The Association will offer three games to member schools this season with League of Legends, Rocket League, and Smite.