(11-3-20) The start of the high school basketball season has become a statewide issue in Illinois. Governor JB Pritzker basically overruled the Illinois High School Association’s (IHSA) decision to start on time in November. The Governor raised the risk level on basketball in a COVID 19 press update that put the start of the season on hold, but failed to tell the IHSA officials he was doing that. The next day the IHSA board said they would move forward despite the Governor’s warning of repercussion for schools who followed the IHSA.

Since all of this started several metropolitan school districts have sided with the Governor and will not start the season in November. The Chicago Public Schools, Decatur Public Schools and Springfield Public Schools are a portion of those schools.

It was not a surprise that the Chicago Public Schools, which already has enough fires to put out, decided early not to play basketball.

Springfield Public Schools, which are located in the state capital, are siding with the Governor on waiting to start the basketball season.

In a statement from the Decatur Public Schools

“While DPS students are participating in virtual learning to protect the health and safety of both students and staff, we believe it’s appropriate to restrict athletics and other extra-curricular activities within our buildings as well. Academics are the most important part of what we do at Decatur Public Schools. If our students are not learning in-person, they should not be participating in other in-person activities.”

DPS is already committed to virtual learning until at least January 4th, 2021.

(added 11-5-20) Rockford Public Schools and NIC 10 news release –

We appreciate your understanding and patience as districts work through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You may have seen recent press regarding the different positions being taken by the Governor’s office, Illinois State Board of Education, and the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) regarding high school athletics.

While we know many families and athletes were hoping the conference would allow the basketball season to continue with the IHSA support, the IHSA has no governing authority over Illinois School Districts, so the wisest choice for us is to follow the direction of the governing bodies and the Illinois State Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Each individual district has been advised by their insurance carrier to not participate in the IHSA proposed basketball season and follow the Governor, IDPH, and ISBE’s directives. A failure to do so would result in a lack of insurance coverage for the season thus placing the districts in a position of liability for violating IDPH’s mitigation standard.

We will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our students and coaches as we conduct the other winter sports within the guidelines set forth by the IDPH and ISBE. By following their guidance, we will reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 at athletic events, so we will continue to abide by their directives when it comes to the safety of our staff and students.

Health and safety are the top priority of the conference, and we appreciate your support.


Sincerely,

NIC-10 Principals and Athletic Directors

The Diocese of Peoria says that there schools will not start in November –

“The high schools located in the Diocese of Peoria will not participate in the Illinois High School Association basketball season for 2020-21.

“This decision is based primarily on the fact that the Illinois Department of Health has recently released guidelines which raise basketball to a high level risk of potential COVID exposure.

High schools that are located within the Peoria Diocese geography include Alleman High School, Bloomington Central Catholic, Peoria Notre Dame, Ottawa Marquette, Danville Schlarman, St. Bede Academy in Peru and St. Thomas More in Champaign.

The news does not improve if you are hoping to see basketball start on time. In a Tweet from Brent Grisham (Pleasant PlainsAthletic Director) from a recent Illinois Athletic Directors Association (IADA) Zoom meeting a survey of member schools was conducted–

Just concluded an IADA Zoom Meeting with 372 ADs from across the state.

 Survey Question: How many schools will play basketball this year.

  •     9%- Yes
  •   29%- No
  • 62%- Unsure

Feedback is insurance companies won’t cover schools who play.

With all of this taking place lots of questions are facing the IHSA and member schools.

What punishments will schools face who disregard the IHSA start date and decide to play out of season be?

Remember the IHSA is not under the thumb of the State and receives no funding from the government. The association depends on income from many sources and most have been eliminated because of the pandemic.

One major loss is from playoff and tournament games income from ticket sales. Illinois has had to cancel basketball (past March), football this fall and depending on what happens to basketball this winter it could also be a casualty this winter.

Other states in the region…including Indiana and Ohio are moving forward with basketball seasons.