INDIANAPOLIS – A day after announcing a decision to try to push forward with the IHSAA boys basketball tournament with just “essential” personnel, Commissioner Bobby Cox made an announcement that will currently stall the tournament at the regional round as the state continues to take measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Indiana.
“Due to the number of schools closing after today for an extended period of time, it has become apparent the IHSAA boys basketball tournament series cannot be completed as scheduled,” said Cox in a pre-recorded announcement on Friday morning. “Subsequently, the boy’s basketball tournament is postponed immediately.”
Cox went on to say:
“The Association will continue to evaluate the utility of continuing the boy’s basketball tournament at a later date and will inform our member schools and the public as soon as a definitive decision can be reached.”
While the basketball tournament is halted the girl’s gymnastics state championship will continue as announced on Thursday with essential personnel only and no spectators.
Locally three schools – Argos, Culver Academy, and LaVille – find themselves in limbo headed to the regional round. Triton High School is affected as well as a host site of the Class 1A regional.
With face to face classes canceled by most school systems in the state, teams will be unable to meet or practice officially until further notice.
While Cox said a day earlier the financial impact on the association for limiting attendance at the tournament would be at least half a million dollars, full cancellation would dig deeper financially.
Fortunately for the member schools’ athletic departments, the financial hit is much smaller.
“Right now, I don’t see any real negative impact on us financially,” said Triton AD Mason McIntire. “We are through the fall and winter sports seasons, which for us, generate the most income. We will see how this plays out and how it impacts our spring sports seasons, but I do not anticipate a large loss of revenue.”
Argos AD Jon Alcorn concurred.
“If this had happened in the middle of basketball season, it would have had a much greater impact,” he said. “As it is, most schools have completed the vast majority of their basketball seasons including elementary and junior high.”
While the boy’s basketball season is officially in a wait and see mode, the decision will have further-reaching complications. Spring sports seasons would normally be in full swing within the next few weeks. Efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 have brought about the cancellation of several indoor track meets around the state, the unofficial beginning of the track season and spring sports in general.
The IHSAA issued a memo to member schools on Thursday regarding spring sports and at that time said that continuing of spring sports contests was, “…at the discretion of our member schools.”
The memo went on to say however that safety rules in place regarding the number of practices necessary before allowing participation in a particular sport would remain in place and enforced.
Quoting the memo:
“This health and safety measure within the by-laws will not be waived. Should a previously scheduled contest fall before the completion of said separate days of practice, the contest must be rescheduled or canceled.”
“Logistically, it kind of feels like our athletic schedules have all been hit by a category five tornado and we are left to pick up the pieces and try and salvage a spring season,” said LaVille AD Will Hostrawser. “Everything we have set up, planned for and organized is totally out the window. We must rebuild something from the group up. What usually takes months to set up we will have to do in a matter of weeks. You can’t reset your spring schedules too soon because there is a chance you will have to redo it all again causing even more confusion than is already out there.”
“The big problem with this tornado (COVID-19) is no one knows the endpoint time and we are all kind of in a reactionary mode all we can do is wait,” said Hostrawser. “Sometimes that is hard to do. Just like every school in the area, we have numerous student-athletes and coaching staff members who have prepared for a long time for the upcoming spring season and are chomping at the bit to get out there and compete, worse, they don’t know when they can – or if they will be able to at all.”
“Spring sport effect is to be determined, but as of today (Friday) lacrosse is postponed across the state for one month until April 13,” said Alcorn. “Schools in the Indianapolis area are closing early and are prohibiting extracurricular activities.”
“It’s hard to know what each day will bring, but it is likely the spring sport season will be shortened,” he said. “As spring sports are not major revenue sports, we anticipate the financial effect on the athletic department will be minimal. There will be an effect on those who are paid to officiate games, take tickets, etc., but that all depends on how the next month unfolds.”
“I think the impact of spring sports schedules are yet to be determined,” he said. “As measures continue to be put in place we know that it will impact it in some way, but we just don’t know how yet.”
“At this point, we are just waiting to see what happens,” said Hostrawser. “At LaVille, we put out a date to resume practicing on Monday April 13, but to be honest, it is just a safe guess. We always make decisions with the best interest of our student-athletes at heart. If we feel it is not yet safe on that date, we will adjust accordingly.”