NIAA considering many scenarios if sports resume amid COVID-19 pandemic

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With the suspension because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nevada Interscholastic and Activities Association is working on contingency plans if sports will resume for spring season.

Because of the governor’s order that schools are closed until at least April 6, sports will not resume for practice or competition until the order has been lifted. The NIAA said in a memo that its staff is working on the possibility of abbreviated seasons and for the region and state tournaments. These plans will consider various numbers of days and weeks that may be available for competition should schools come back into session and be allowed to compete. If schools resume only online, meaning no physical gathering on campus to continue the social distancing recommendation, then sports will not resume because of that same reason.

“If they’re not physically back, then there will be no activities,” said Donnie Nelson, assistant director for the NIAA. “It’s certainly dependent on the governor and superintendents. That’s why we’re 100 percent on hold. In terms of high school sports, we will react. That’s the big word.”

The NIAA anticipates, at this time, that competition will not go beyond the dismissal of school for the current school year whenever that may occur. A lack of days or weeks to complete competition could result in competition through a regional tournament only. It is the hope of the NIAA staff that all tournaments will be able to be held. The NIAA said it has currently scheduled sites for nearly all regional and state tournaments.

Depending on the sport and the number of days or weeks available for competition, the NIAA anticipates the following but stressed there are many possibilities. Nelson said there are multiple possibilities of amending current formats, league structure, operations and procedures.

“All those plans we have in mind, there are too many scenarios to talk about at this point,” Nelson said. “There could be some drastic format changes. We’ve got a lot of ideas that finalize play at the region level or include some form at the state competition.”

For team sports, like baseball and softball, schools will be divided within their classification into pools of three to five schools with play among those schools used to aid in seeding a regional tournament. Depending on the available time for play, pool play could eliminate teams from advancing to the tournament.

For swimming and diving, and track and field, entry directly into the regional meet for a maximum number of entries per event per school would make up the regional meet. For boys golf, each school will be allowed to enter a team of six golfers in the regional tournament.

Annual events are being discussed. The Hall of Fame dinner has been moved to September and will still be in Reno while the Top 10 Student-Athletes dinners for both the northern and southern regions are in limbo.

Nelson said the deadline to submit for the student-athlete awards program ended last week and the dinner is scheduled for April 21 for the north and April 29 for the south. However, the two dinners are dependent on if activities and sports will resume and if casinos and venues are open. Nelson added that winners will still be chosen and that the NIAA received “record numbers” of applications. Multiple scenarios are being discussed regarding the award ceremony dinner, including mailing the $1,000 check to the winners or presenting the award to the winners at their schools.


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