Despite delays, nearly full spring sports seasons are anticipated

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Early next week, another revised 2021 scholastic sports calendar is expected to be formalized by the WVSSAC. Another delay to the winter and spring sports seasons was put in place by Governor Jim Justice on December 30.

The WVSSAC has conducted virtual meetings throughout this week with coaches committees and athletic directors to gain input on how the calendar should be reworked after the latest delay. The WVSSAC Board of Directors reviewed the proposal Thursday. State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Clayton Burch and the Governor are expected to review the new calendar next week.

Governor Justice alluded twice this week during his COVID press briefings as March 1 possibly being the date to start competitions. The WVSSAC is proceeding with the understanding that a preseason practice window will open sometime in February. They are also hopeful that a conditioning window can precede the official start of practice.

“We will wait and see if it meets their approval and then be able to move forward from there,” said WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan.

“We are hopeful we don’t go from doing nothing and right into practice. We hope there is a conditioning window. But we are waiting for the Governor. He looks at the big picture.”

When Governor Justice originally set a winter sports start date of January 11, the WVSSAC rescheduled state basketball tournaments to be played from March 30-April 10. Those events will be delayed once again.

“They will be pushed back by about a month. Instead of being the first part of April, they’ll be in the first part of May.”

Although the winter sports seasons will be compressed, Dolan is optimistic that spring sports can start competitions around the originally rescheduled date of April 7. Spring sports were canceled entirely in 2020.

“Basically, we have shortened a little bit on the winter sports. But the spring sports kind of have a full schedule just because we extended about three weeks beyond the (original) regular season. We are hoping they are going to have a full season even though there will be some overlap between the end of winter sports and the beginning of spring.

“One of the driving factors was to give the spring a full and meaningful schedule. The other thing that has come up besides the overlap of the seasons is travel teams now that we have moved basketball into April and a little bit of May. And if we move baseball and softball into later June, it will interfere with some travel ball with them as well. Currently with our rule, you can’t be playing travel ball and playing ball for your school.”

Dolan says single-elimination play may be considered for baseball and softball postseason play.

If the proposed calendar is approved, winter and spring sports will overlap for a period of about five weeks. Student-athletes can compete in multiple sports (i.e. basketball and baseball) during that window if they choose to.

“The biggest issue is that the small schools, it will be difficult from time-to-time with having the end of winter going while we have the beginning of spring. That’s been the biggest challenge, trying to make sure we don’t have too much overlap, so that the small schools can participate.

“The big schools will have the same concerns. But the big schools also probably could field teams. They would be waiting on certain kids coming from basketball. But in the small schools, a large percentage would be coming from winter sports.”

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