ILLINOIS (WAND) - Multiple youth fall sports, including football, girls volleyball and boys soccer, will be moved to spring 2021, the IHSA announced.  

The moves were announced hours after Gov. JB Pritzker announced restrictions to youth sports in Illinois. The plan, made public after an IHSA Board of Directors special meeting held Wednesday, is going to the Illinois Department of Public Health for final approval.

Illinois is the sixth U.S. state to move high school football to the spring during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to MaxPreps.

A full press release from the IHSA can be found here

The organization said all sports are expected to be played in four truncated seasons and based on the following schedule: 

  • Fall: Aug. 10 to Oct. 24 
  • Winter: Nov. 16 to Feb. 13 
  • Spring: Feb. 15 to May 1 
  • Summer: May 3 to June 26 

“I applaud our Board of Directors for choosing a model that allows every student-athlete the opportunity for a modified season,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Based on our recent conversations, it is our expectation that today’s plan meets all of IDPH’s safety guidelines and will be approved.”

The IHSA released a chart of sports that are changing:

Baseball, softball, track, girls soccer, boys volleyball lacrosse and boys tennis have been moved from spring 2021 to summer 2021. Boys and girls golf, tennis, cross country and girls swimming and diving will remain as fall sports. 

To follow Pritzker's announcement, fall sports will start with competition limited to only conference opponents and schools in the same general geographical area. The IHSA plans to release more information to schools about scheduling limits in the coming week. It added scheduling "will continue to be assessed" during each season.

“This plan, like nearly every aspect of our current lives, remains fluid,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Changes may come, and if they do, we will be agile while putting safety and students first. It was important that we provide a framework today for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and officials to begin preparing for the 2020-21 school year.”

The organization plans to make decisions on State Series tournaments "on a sport-by-sport basis," the IHSA release said. The board said providing postseason opportunities remains a priority. Postseason plans could involve culminating these tournaments after regional and sectional rounds, or seeking other non-traditional means. 

In addition, Phase 4 Return to Play Guidelines were extended by the board, allowing sports slated for the winter, spring and summer seasons the chance to have an additional 20 days of contact for schools between Sept. 7 and Oct. 31 while following IDPH Phase 4 guidelines. 

The IHSA did not take any action related to its activity offerings, including bass fishing, chess, debate, drama and group interpretation, individual events, journalism, music and Scholastic Bowl. While the board did discuss activities, Anderson said leaders believe many of them can be offered virtually. 

Board members verified in the Wednesday meeting athletes and activity participants from schools conducting remote learning are not restricted in IHSA by-laws from taking part in events. 

Further details on sport season and practice limitations are expected to be released by IHSA to its schools after IDPH approval. 

“I understand that today’s announcement will be met with mixed emotions,” said Anderson. “Our staff and board have heard from thousands of people over the past few weeks with ideas, opinions, and proposals on how we should proceed. We respect and understand their passion, because we share in it. It is a great reminder that if we want high school sports to return to normal, we all need to do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

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