The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association is preparing for a 2020-21 high school athletics season, but knowing whether prep sports will be played next season given the COVID-19 pandemic is "impossible," the organization said this week, although the NIAA did outline some possible outcomes for next season.
Among those possibilities are low-contact sports being played while high-contact sports are not; competition resuming at some NIAA member schools but not others; schools being barred from NIAA-sanctioned sports if in-person instruction is closed at that school; and the removal of minimum contest language.
"Many, if not most, considerations for upcoming competition seasons are unknown at this time and will likely continue to be fluid for the duration of the pandemic," the NIAA said as part of a four-page update on the current situation released earlier this week. "While the NIAA staff is continually reviewing contingencies to be as well prepared as possible for whatever situation may arise, it has become evident that making hard and fast decisions prior to an eventuality precludes consideration of factors that cannot be anticipated and that should be considered. :
The NIAA said many of the possibilities about whether there will be a 2020-21 athletic season are "outside the control of both NIAA member schools and the NIAA in nearly all instances." Those include whether schools will be open to in-person instruction, travel restrictions and potential funding shortfalls that could curtail money for athletics.
"Wisdom therefore dictates that guiding principles rather than rigid plans be set in place to steer decisions as issues arise," the NIAA wrote. "Due to the unpredictable nature of the state of the pandemic in relation to NIAA sports, and the time sensitive nature of regular season and playoff schedules, it is incumbent upon the NIAA to be nimble in dealing with the impact of the eventualities."
The Board of Control has granted the NIAA staff the authority to make and implement polices and scheduling adjustments required to cope with changes with the pandemic. The staff is to expected to consult, whenever possible, with the presidents of the affected classifications, the president of the NIAA Board of Control and the superintendent liaison to the NIAA Board of Control prior to implementing such adjustments.
The NIAA said some sports might be played while others are not, and some schools might continue play if others are shut down. The organization said it will use the following guiding principles in 2020-21.
* Conduct competition in as many sports as is safely possible with as many schools as are capable of safely competing.
* Conduct competition in lower-risk sports even if higher-risk sports cannot play.
* Play in geographic areas where possible even if other areas cannot.
* Continue competition even if some schools cannot continue or are temporarily suspended.
* If a school is closed to in-person instruction, that school is not to compete in NIAA-sanctioned sports.
* Set seasons should be honored and not be extended to increase the overlap of a subsequent season.
* In the circumstances of the pandemic, providing opportunities for participation of as many schools and students as is safely possible takes precedence over playoff considerations.
* The inherent competitive disparities of conducting competition where possible are overshadowed given the circumstances of the pandemic. Returning students to school-based athletics and activities, where it can be done safely, takes precedence over the temporary competitive inequities that may arise.
* Universal contest limits should not be reduced. Schools are not required to compete in the maximum number of contests allowed.
Spring sports were first suspended in March and before being canceled in late April. On June 10, the Governor's office and NIAA gave schools the OK to start unlimited offseason practice without fans in attendance if approved by their county and district.
The NIAA also announced the location of the 2020-21 state tournaments, which will be split between the north and south within sports by classifications. The locations are as follows.
Football: North 5A, 2A*; South 4A, 3A*, 1A*
Soccer: North 3A, 2A; South 5A, 4A
Tennis: North 5A, 3A; South 4A
Girls’ Volleyball: North 5A, 2A; South 4A, 3A, 1A
Basketball: North 3A, 1A; South 5A, 4A, 2A
Baseball: North 5A, 2A; South 4A, 3A, 1A
Softball: North 5A, 2A; South 4A, 3A, 1A
Cross Country: South 5A, 4A, 3A, 2A
Girls Golf: North 5A, 3A, 2A; South 4A
Wrestling: North 5A, 3A, 2A; South 4A
Boys’ Golf: North 5A, 3A, 2A; South 4A
Swimming & Diving: North 5A, 3A; South 4A
Track & Field: South: 5A, 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A
* For the 1A, 2A and 3A classifications, if the final teams are both from the north or both from the south and the classification is scheduled opposite of where the teams are from, the game would be played in the north if both teams are from the north or in the south if both are from the south.