PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — High school athletic programs around the state could soon have the entire summer to stage voluntary practices, except for a dead period the week of July 4.
The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission board of control approved a proposal Tuesday that would lengthen the current summer practice session from its current three-week window.
“I think it will be well received by most of our coaches,” said SSAC executive director Gary Ray. “I don’t think coaches are going to take all summer for just football or just basketball. I think they will work with their schools and pick a few weeks that work individually for their sports.
“It opens up the window more than if it’s restricted to just three weeks. For example, a baseball coach could take them in the middle of the summer and then the track coach could take them early. They can start sharing kids more and I think that is part of the reason to it.”
The rules changes still have to be approved by the West Virginia State Board of Education, and would take effect for the 2015-2016 academic year.
A separate proposal to stage year-round practices for teams without any dead period was dismissed.
“It was pretty overwhelming that (voters) didn’t want to open up practices for the whole year,” Ray said. “There was a concern that kids would start specializing even more (in just one sport) and they didn’t want to promote that. They wanted kids to participate in a variety of sports. If a coach had access to a kid all year long, there’s a concern that they wouldn’t participate in other sports.”
The compromise vote essentially became opening up the summer practice session.
“The problem we have right now is (athletes’) time is monopolized by travel teams and so forth,” Ray said. “Our philosophy by our member-school principals now is that if their time is going to be monopolized anyway, let’s let our coaches do it—the ones who work with them in an education-based athletics. From that perspective, I think it’s a positive move.”
The West Virginia State Board of Education will put all of the SSAC rules changes on its agenda for May. After a 30-day public comment period, the board will likely vote in July whether to approve the changes.