March 13, 2020

Basketball state tournament crushed, Spring prep sports season not looking good

A little more than hours after the NCAA canceled the entire spring championship season, the Illinois High School Association released a statement last night ending its Illinois winter sports championship series. That meant the annual state finals for boys basketball, scholastic bowl, drama & group interpretation, music, debate and journalism were nixed over concerns related to the spread COVID-19 virus in the United States.

"We appreciate the patience and understanding that we have received from everyone involved in this process over the past 72 hours," said Executive Director Craig Anderson. "We have stressed the fluidity of this situation and have been transparent about the possibility that a suspension or cancellation could occur. While we had support from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Peoria City/County Health Department to continue our events with limited spectators, it has become untenable to continue the events among our member schools."

The Class 1A boys basketball tournament was a mere 17 hours from tipping off under a new policy allowing just 60 fans for each team to be present when the plug was pulled. Dreams of winning a state title zapped for hundreds of athletes around the state.

He added, "Multiple schools who are participating or hosting these sports and activities have been forced to withdraw from those roles, clarifying the need for the IHSA to take definitive action. The Board considered suspending the events, but after deliberate discussion, did not believe that was a realistic option within the timeline. We feel for everyone who has been impacted, but must put the health and safety of all involved ahead of these events."

As of today, there have been 32 confirmed cases of the virus in Illinois. All reported cases appear to be in the Cook and surrounding counties in upstate Illinois.

With the college sports canceled for the remainder of the academic year, the question of what happens to prep sports is still up in the air.

"It is too early to make any decisions regarding IHSA spring state final tournaments," explained Anderson in a prepared release. "We respect the NCAA’s decision to cancel its spring championships, but also recognize that the exposure and travel by our high school teams is not as expansive as collegiate teams. At this juncture, we recommend that all IHSA spring sport teams consult their local health departments, and follow their recommendations on if and how to proceed with practices and regular-season contests."

Locally, the Champaign Unit 4 announced the school district will immediately cancel all travel, competitions and community gatherings from Thursday, March 12, through Sunday, April 5, 2020. The Urbana, St. Joseph-Ogden, Unity and Heritage school districts, on recommendation from the county public health department suspended all travel, competitions and community gatherings until April 5.

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