Badger Conference league winter sports competitions have been canceled for 2020-21, and no conference champions will be crowned because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conference, which includes Stoughton High School, announced the decision Friday, Oct. 16, in an email. It does not prevent member schools from participating in nonconference competitions, though none can be hosted in Dane County under existing health department orders.

As a result, Stoughton High School athletic director Mel Dow said the school is working toward a winter athletic season in conjunction with the WIAA schedule and COVID-19 safety protocols for small group practices with the anticipation of a delayed start. He said SHS will continue to provide programming for students within the guidelines and restrictions the county is requiring until a full return is permitted.

“As these plans are developed and approved, we will communicate with those who have registered through the athletic registration system or are rostered through their respective coach,” Dow said. “We realize that our current situation is not easy for any of us and has been extremely challenging for our students, parents, and coaches. As we continue to face unprecedented times, the health and safety of our athletes, coaches, game workers, fans and officials is our No. 1 priority.”

The Badger Conference includes 16 schools in seven different counties, including Dane County that has been hit hard by COVID-19. Based on guidance from PHMDC, the conference superintendents, principals and athletic directors have agreed conference competitions can’t take place during the winter season.

The WIAA plans to conduct winter sports and has sent out health guidelines for winter sports, which include boys and girls basketball, gymnastics, boys and girls ice hockey, boys swimming and diving and wrestling.

The conference acknowledged in its Oct. 16 statement there will likely be different plans throughout the conference and state depending on the spread of the virus and local health department guidance.

“We understand the need to be flexible, adaptable, and use creative thinking as we move forward and appreciate the understanding of our school communities as we continue to work together to navigate the COVID-19 situation,” the conference statement reads.