The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, December 14, 2020, where the Board announced a season change for the sport of Girls Badminton, provided an update on contact days, and reiterated that a timeline on sport schedules for the remainder of the school year will be forthcoming following discussions with state officials. The Board voted to move Girls Badminton from a spring sport to a winter sport within the modified 2020-21 sports calendar.
“Given its status as a low-risk sport, we believe we can safely conduct badminton in the winter as soon as the current mitigations are lifted,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “The feedback that we have heard from our schools is that this is an optimal time to conduct badminton as they look at balancing sports and facilities throughout the remainder of the school year.”
The Board also permitted the allowance of contact days for out-of-season IHSA sports (2020-21 fall, spring, & summer sports) as soon as the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Governor Pritzker’s office lift Tier 3 mitigations. Contact days will be restricted to six hours per student-athlete per sport each week, and can include practices, drills, and intra-squad scrimmages allowable under IDPH guidance. Competition against any other high school, conducted in-state or out-of-state, is prohibited.
“The Board felt that it was important for the physical and mental health of our student-athletes to resume contacts days for all out-of-season sports as soon IDPH deems it safe,” said Anderson. “Winter sports are not included, as we anticipate all low-risk winter sports will be able to begin their seasons at the same time. Basketball remains the outlier in the equation. We hope to be able to conduct basketball during the winter season, but if we cannot, basketball will be provided the same contact day opportunity as we determine where the basketball seasons fits best in the remainder of the school year.”
The Board plans to meet with representatives from IDPH and the Governor’s office prior to January to develop a timeline for the resumption of winter sports. Following that meeting, the Board will call a special meeting to finalize scheduling for the winter, spring, and summer sport seasons.
“The Board reiterated on Monday that they plan to do everything in their power to provide a season for every IHSA sport in 2020-21,” said Anderson. “There have been no cancellations of any sports, or discussions about cancelling any sports, thus far. The Board appreciates the patience and flexibility of the IHSA membership and remain optimistic, especially as vaccines begin to be administered, that we will return to conducting IHSA sports early in 2021.”
1. The Board approved a modification to the IHSA’s Academic By-Laws (By-laws 3.022 and 4.022) for the second semester of the 2020-21 school year. Students are now required to pass 15 credit hours (3 classes) in the first semester of 2020-21 in order to remain eligible for the second semester, however, the 25-hour weekly passing credit requirement will remain intact during the second semester.
IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson:
“Academics will always come first in interscholastic athletics and activities, however, our Board also has empathy for the impact that virtual learning has had on students during this unprecedented school year. They recognize that our most marginalized students are often the most significantly impacted, so they feel these modifications still provide an appropriate emphasis on academics, while trying to provide as many students as possible the opportunity to participate.”
2. The Board approved a recommendation to conduct a virtual State Series, culminating with a State Final, in the following winter activities (music, chess, speech, debate, drama). Scholastic Bowl will have a State Series though it is yet to be determined the culminating level depending on the IDPH limitations. Each activity will include an entry fee of $100 per team. No additional activity fee is due if a team advances to the next level of a tournament.
3. The Board approved a recommendation to adopt IHSA Spectator Guidelines for winter sports. The Spectator Guidelines were created by the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and provide safety considerations for schools. To read the IHSA Spectator Guidelines, click here.
4. The Board approved a recommendation to approve IHSA Officials Guidelines for winter sports. The Officials Guidelines were created by the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and provide safety considerations for officials. To read the IHSA Officials Guidelines, click here.
5. The Board approved a recommendation to extend State Final hosting contracts by one year with multiple host venues that did not or do not anticipate hosting a state final tournament in 2020-21 due to the pandemic. Contracts extended by one year include the sports of Boys Golf (Prairie Vista, Weibring, The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington-Normal), Girls Golf (Red Tail Run & Hickory Point in Decatur), Girls Volleyball and Girls Basketball (Redbird Arena in Normal), Football (Memorial Stadium in Champaign), and Boys Basketball (State Farm Center in Champaign). More one-year exceptions to state final hosting contracts are likely to be reviewed as the school year progresses.
APPEALS & ELIGIBILITY RULINGS
1. The Board sustained the Executive Director’s ruling on a student from Minooka. The student was ruled ineligible for not meeting compliance with IHSA By-law 3.030 and its sub-sections.
At each meeting of the Board of Directors, there are certain items the Board discusses, but upon which no action is taken. The following is a report of those items from the December 14, 2020, agenda:
1. Representatives from the accounting firm, Striegel Knobloch & Co LLC, presented the annual audit to the Board. The audit can be reviewed by clicking here.
2. The Board discussed plans for State Series postseason tournaments in IHSA winter sports. The Board will revisit the topic once winter seasons begin and the Board can better gauge a timeline for the season.
3. The Board discussed a letter from the administration at Seneca High School related to the eligibility of student-athletes graduating early.
4. The Board discussed a letter from the principals of the West Suburban Conference regarding IHSA activities being conducted successfully in a virtual format.
5. The Board discussed a letter from the Illinois Directors of Student Activities (IDSA) regarding IHSA activities.
6. The Board heard a report from the Executive Director on the three proposals that the Legislative Commission moved forward to the all-school ballot. Voting concludes on December 14 and results are expected to be posted online on December 15following an independent certification of the voting.
7. The Board heard a report from the Executive Director on the 2020 IHSA Town Meetings/Principals Rules Meetings and the IADA Division Meetings.
8. The Board heard a report from the Executive Director on staff discussions for establishing fall sports classifications for 2021-22. The Executive Director will bring the Board a formalized proposal to vote on at a future meeting.
9. Several IHSA staff members will participate in the Lets Connect Conference, which will be held virtually on January 7-8.
10. The annual NFHS Winter Executive Director Meeting will be held virtually on January 4-7.