In a dramatic about-face, the Illinois High School Association Wednesday announced plans to go ahead with boys and girls basketball as scheduled, starting the seasons on time. This comes in direct contradiction of a Tuesday announcement from the Governor and IDPH, putting the season “on hold” saying: “Just like with fall sports, nothing is canceled but some tournament play is being put on hold until we’re through the thick of this pandemic.”
In a mid-afternoon news release, the IHSA said member schools could start basketball practice in two weeks and play their first games the end of November. This comes 24 hours after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced he was putting basketball and wrestling “on hold” due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Board of Directors released a statement after its meeting on Wednesday.
“The SMAC offered additional mitigations, such as masks during play and social distancing on benches, that the SMAC believed would allow basketball to be played safely,” it said. “We will require all IHSA basketball teams to follow this mitigations.”
Gov. Pritzker was asked several questions about the move during his daily COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday, throwing it back on the school districts to follow his guidelines.
“We’ve told school districts what the rules are and I think they all know,” Pritzker said. “So IHSA may have their views but school districts know what the rules are. It’s unfortunate but they would be probably be taking on legal liability. What I would suggest is that if there’s a difference of opinion, I prefer to err on the side of health and safety.”
The IHSA Board cited several challenges with postponing the season, including mental health issues, scheduling issues, athletes leaving the state to play elsewhere.