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Northern Nevada high school basketball, wrestling seasons won't start on time

High school wrestling
The high school wrestling season won't start on time. (KRNV file)

The Northern Nevada high school basketball and wrestling seasons will not start on time and potentially won't be played at all this year.

The NIAA, which oversees high school athletics in the state, said Thursday it does not anticipate the governor's office revisiting the current ban on contact sports like basketball and wrestling before Jan. 15 when both sports are scheduled to begin play in Nevada. The NIAA previously asked the governor's office for the ban on contact sports be lifted.

"Upon review of the proposed plans and feedback from state and county public health officials, the Governor will not be revising the directive as requested at this time," the NIAA was told on Jan. 1.

On Tuesday, the NIAA received additional information from the Governor's office that indicated the earliest a potential lifting of the prohibition on unmodified practice or competition for full/close-contact sports would be considered would be in conjunction with review of the current statewide pause.

"The current Statewide Pause is in effect until at least Jan. 15 and could be extended based on the situation with the pandemic," the NIAA said. "While the prohibition on full/close-contact sports is not linked to the statewide pause, assurance was given that a review of the prohibition would be included among the many issues considered in reviewing the pandemic situation in conjunction with consideration of ending or continuing the pause. It is noted that an end to or revision of mitigation efforts related to the pause does not necessarily mean a lifting of the Directive 034 prohibitions on full/close-contact sports."

In July, the NIAA delayed the start of high school sports in Nevada until after the New Year, citing COVID-19 restrictions. The goal was to play three six-week seasons, starting with winter sports then fall sports then spring sports. The winter sports season began tryouts and practices last Saturday with competition allowed Jan. 15. Winter sports skiing and flag football are permitted under Directive 034 and remain on schedule in Northern Nevada (Southern Nevada's Clark County schools aren't playing winter sports this year due to COVID).

"The season for skiing and flag football has not been adjusted beyond the initial adjustment that was announced on July 23 that the season would begin with practices allowed Jan. 2 and conclude with the latest date for competition on Feb. 20," the NIAA said.

Currently, modified practices and conditioning in accordance with NIAA guidance and with the additional restrictions outlined in Emergency Directive 034 are permitted in basketball and wrestling. That includes practice on a “limited basis for athletic conditioning, drills, and practices in which dummy players, sleds, punching bags, and similar equipment are used, but athletes do not come into contact with other players.”

Competition, scrimmages and unmodified practice are not allowed in basketball and wrestling under the provisions of Emergency Directive 034 in the NIAA winter season sports of basketball and wrestling. With no review of contact sports being held by the Governor's office until at least Jan. 15, if basketball and/or wrestling are allowed to be conducted sometime after that period adjustments in the schedules for those sports will be needed.

The NIAA said it is preparing for seasons in basketball and/or wrestling "in case a directive is issued by the Governor allowing one or both of those sports to be conducted, however likely or unlikely that may be." Football also is among the banned contact sports in the state, although practice in that sport isn't scheduled to start until Feb. 13 with games scheduled to begin March 5.

Brady Raggio, the general manager of NIAA Sports Properties, was on NSN Daily on Thursday to provide more clarity for the 2020-21 NIAA season.

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