Oregon Football - Ryan McCorkle

Oregon’s Ryan McCorkle (left) sacks Edgewood quarterback Logan Ritchie during the Panthers’ 35-0 victory last September. Badger Conference schools will not play any league competitions this fall.

Badger Conference schools will not play any league competitions and conference champions will not be crowned this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league’s athletic directors announced the cancellation of the fall sports season Thursday, July 30. Many school districts in the conference are looking into moving fall sports back to the spring.

The decision came one week after the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control voted to delay the fall sports season and gave schools an option to push fall sports back to the spring. The plan approved for the 2020-21 school year is to start girls golf, girls tennis, girls swimming and diving and boys and girls cross country – sports deemed “lower risk” on Aug. 17. The “higher risk” sports of football, boys soccer and boys and girls volleyball can start Sept. 7.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and communities is our top

Priority,” Oregon athletic director Mike Carr said. “We understand that this is frustrating and disappointing news for all involved. We know that co-curriculars play an important role in the lives of our students. We will continue to rely on the guidance of our educational partners, including the WIAA, the Badger Conference and local and state health officials in determining when it is safe to resume athletic activities.”

Carr said the district is planning to offer fall sports during the spring semester, pending WIAA details and guidance from local health officials.

The Observer obtained a press release sent out by the Badger Conference athletic directors, which gave insight into the fall sports decision.

Complicating matters is the fact that the conference’s 16 schools are spread out across seven counties. Seven schools in the conference are in Dane County.

“This means that plans will vary in different parts of the conference and state, depending on how the virus is spreading in the local area and the guidance from county health departments,” the statement said. “Since all member schools are not able to participate fully in conference contests during the current fall season dates as scheduled, Badger Conference competitions will not be held and conference champions will not be named.”

Dane County is still in a modified version of Phase 2 of the Forward Dane reopening plan. Most sporting events are still prohibited in the county. Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people or less and outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 or less.

Schools in the conference have the option to play nonconference competitions as long as they follow guidelines laid out by local public county health departments and the WIAA.

All students in the Oregon School District will begin the school year with online instruction. Students in grades 5-12 will lean entirely online through the first quarter. OSD plans to reassess its phased reopening plan in October.

“Even though fall sports are canceled, we will continue to look at ways to connect virtually with athletes, and provide workouts and other resources as we did in the spring,” Carr said. “We are planning on additional professional development for both our athletes and coaches in leadership and sportsmanship.”

The WIAA outlined the earliest dates for competition in each fall sport in its revised plan – girls golf (Aug. 20), girls tennis (Aug. 21), boys and girls cross country and girls swimming (Aug. 25), boys soccer and boys and girls volleyball (Sept. 15) and football (Sept. 23 if the first practice is conducted on Sept. 7).