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On May 5, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) made an announcement that seemed inevitable: There will be no high school season for spring sports in 2020. With the world still in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the CIAC finalized its decision to cancel the spring season after Governor Ned Lamont announced that state schools will stay closed through the rest of the school year earlier that day.
“The CIAC appreciates and respects the efforts made by Governor Lamont and [State of Education] Commissioner [Miguel] Cardona to keep our communities safe. The CIAC’s consideration for any spring sport experience has always been contingent on the re-opening of schools for in-person instruction,” the CIAC said in a press release. “Per Governor Lamont’s order, in-school classes have been canceled for the remainder of the 2019-’20 school year. Therefore, there will not be a 2020 CIAC spring sports season.”
The CIAC had previously canceled all postseason tournaments and championship meets for the season, but was still holding out hope to offer Connecticut’s student-athletes some type of spring sports experience during the month of June. The only scenario in which there was any chance of that happening was if schools opened up again for the current academic year. When Governor Lamont made it official that school doors would remain shut, the CIAC followed suit by canceling the season outright, thus bringing a premature conclusion to the careers of thousands of high school athletes. The varsity sports that are played during the spring include baseball, softball, golf, tennis, lacrosse, outdoor track, boys’ volleyball, sailing, and crew.
“The CIAC empathizes with our school communities and the experiences lost to COVID-19,” the CIAC said. “Our focus is now on completing guidelines for summer contact and resocialization to CIAC fall sports.”
It’s been more than two months since a high school sporting event has been held in Connecticut. The last games took place on March 9, when the CIAC held several State Tournament contests for basketball and ice hockey. The following day, as COVID-19 was on the verge of being declared a pandemic, as well as a national emergency in the United States, the CIAC canceled all remaining State Tournament games for the 2019-’20 winter season, becoming the first state in the nation to do so.
On March 18, the CIAC postponed the start of the 2020 spring season that was scheduled to begin on April 4. Then on April 23, the CIAC announced that it was canceling all postseason competitions for the campaign, but kept the possibility open for some games to be played in June. The CIAC was slated to make further announcements about the prospects of spring season at its Board of Control meeting on May 7, but that became a moot point following Governor Lamont’s May 5 announcement regarding the continued closure of schools. Connecticut was the last state in the country to cancel its spring high school sports season.
There were still a few notable decisions that came out of the CIAC’s recent Board of Control meeting, including the passing of a one-year out-of-season rule change. Spring sport coaches will be allowed to provide virtual coaching for student-athletes through the end of May. Then beginning on Monday, June 1, all coaches for spring, winter, and fall sports will be permitted to have virtual contact with student-athletes, including skill instruction and conditioning, pending orders from the Governor to allow summer sports to commence. This can continue until Aug. 17, which is the day that high school football practices for the fall season are scheduled to start.
The CIAC also announced a one-year fall academic eligibility rule change. When determining eligibility for the fall sports season, any incomplete grades will be considered passing grades until the end of the first marking period of the 2020-’21 school year. This will allow any student-athlete with an incomplete grade to participate in fall sports.
Lastly, the CIAC announced a one-year transfer rule change. If a receiving school submitted an athlete’s CIAC transfer notification form and it had been processed by the CIAC office, thereby establishing that the athlete would have had to sit out 50 percent of the spring season, that athlete will be immediately eligible to play interscholastic sports in the fall.
The CIAC will continue discussing the possibilities for a 2020 fall season throughout the coming weeks and is slated to hold its next Board of Control meeting on Monday, June 29.
“CIAC staff will continue to meet and develop guidelines for resocialization to fall sports,” the CIAC said. “It is important for everyone to continue their efforts in maintaining social distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. When the time is right, CIAC will play again.”
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