As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country, the executive directors of each high school athletic association started to reach out to one another with updates regarding the cancellation of high school seasons and state tournaments.
Dave Anderson, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, kept in close contact with his counterpart in Iowa, Tom Keating. High school baseball and softball teams in Iowa play their seasons in the summer, an idea the WIAA considered for all of its sanctioned spring sports.
Ultimately, the WIAA Board of Control voted to cancel spring sports competition at its April 21 meeting. The decision impacted baseball, softball, boys golf, girls soccer, boys tennis and boys and girls track and field.
“There was constant communication by the executive staffs and that information was passed to the respective Boards of Control,” said Dennis Birr, the President of the WIAA Board of Control. “We looked into every possible option before the meeting.”
The WIAA boys basketball state series reached the sectional final round before the remainder of the postseason was canceled due to COVID-19. The Division 3 and 4 girls basketball state semifinals were played, but the championship games and the Division 1, 2 and 5 state tournaments were canceled.
Iowa finished its state tournaments on March 13, when games were played in front of almost no fans at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Spring sports were canceled as of April 17 by the Iowa High School Athletic Association. Summer sports are suspended, but not canceled. A decision on summer sports will be made by June 1, which is the first day of practice for both baseball and softball.
The WIAA sponsored baseball as a summer sport from 1965 to 2018, after which it was dropped because of only 44 participating schools.
WIAA Assistant Director Tom Shafranski is responsible for the administration for the sports of golf, hockey, swimming and diving and tennis. He supported Anderson’s recommendation to
allow for unrestricted coaching contact in the summer for spring sports, provided coaches include graduating seniors.
The WIAA Board of Control voted to expand out-of-season coaching to 30 unrestricted contact days for spring sports athletes, pending local health guidelines. Virtual coaching can continue through June 30 (or when state order would allow) before the 30 contact days would begin.
“We would be open to providing a season of some form if (Gov. Tony Evers’ executive) orders allowed for some type of competition and for schools to organize,” Shafranski said. “We’d like to do that, but public safety is going to come first.”