CIAC cancels spring tournaments, keeps hope alive for sports experience
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference continues to hold out hope for some type of spring sports experience in June, but all of its postseason tournaments and championships have been canceled.
That decision was made Thursday morning during the latest CIAC Board of Control meeting.
“Our position is that any spring sport experiences should maximize the opportunity for student-athletes within individual schools and leagues,” CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini said. “At this point, we realize it is not feasible to run state championships. ... It won’t be feasible to gather people from different areas of the state to run a competition.”
Schools are currently closed until May 20. If a final decision is made to close schools for the remainder of the school year, then the hope for any semblance of spring sports will end as well.
“The Board of Control was clear that if schools are closed for the remainder of the (school) year, then the CIAC will cancel all spring sport experiences,” Lungaini said. “The easy thing for the board to do is to say ‘We are canceling.’ It’s the easy decision. But we appreciate that Governor (Ned) Lamont and Commissioner (Miguel) Cardona (of state education) have explored every potential opportunity for kids to come back (to school)... We are going to wait for that determination to be made and follow that lead in terms of making it possible to return for any spring sport experience.”
The CIAC, in its release, said it surveyed superintendents, principals and athletic directors in addition to the student-athletes themselves, as well as parents, before making these decisions. The organization also consulted with the Connecticut State Medical Society, Sports Medicine Committee and the Department of Public Health and stayed in constant communication with Cardona.
Lungarini had previously said July was a possibility to continue the spring season into, but then said it brought “more questions than answers.” That possibility is no longer on the table.
The weekly athletic director’s virtual meeting with Lungarini is Friday morning. The South-West Conference ADs will meet separately Friday afternoon.
“Everyone is heart-broken for the kids. If there is ever any chance we will get anything in, we will make the most of it,” SWC commissioner Dave Johnson said. “We are playing that waiting game and will see what the next decision is.”
Johnson is retiring in June and will move to Pennsylvania. He has a niece who is a senior in Massachusetts. Both states are among several others that have closed schools for the remainder of the school year and canceled spring sports as well.
“Everything we do as ADs and coaches (is) for the kids, but at the same time, given the situation, if schools are unable to resume safely, then you can’t have student activities for the health and safety of everyone,” Johnson said. “The CIAC has done an exemplary job handling the situation, trying to keep the doors open to even the remote possibility to have something in June.”
The Southern Connecticut Conference is also having a previously-scheduled AD’s meeting on Friday afternoon.
“Right now judging by what happened today, there is still hope and as a league, we have to prepare ourselves to be ready to do something,” SCC commissioner Al Carbone said. “If we get one or three weeks, do something as a league to make sure everyone is committed to that.”
Other topics discussed at Thursday’s Board of Control meeting pertained in large part to the upcoming fall season. Physicals will remain valid for a 13-month period and while 10 days of practice before a game can be played remains in place, five of those can be done at home individually.
Also to be further discussed includes the transfer rule eligibility for fall sports, out-of-season coaching and eligibility for students who receive an incomplete grade.
The next Board of Control meeting is May 7. Further evaluations will continue until then — or until a final call is made on the school year.
“The CIAC wants to support our student-athletes. We recognize what they have lost and, if it’s safe, want to give them any experience we possibly can,” Lungarini said. “We are keeping the student-athletes at the heart of our decision-making and that’s the best we can do.”