On Wednesday, ahead of the WIAA Board of Control meeting in Stevens Point, members from the WIAA spoke to the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Education in an informational hearing on school reopening guidance.
WIAA Executive Director Dave Anderson opened with remarks that the WIAA has not canceled fall sports, or even had the conversation to cancel fall sports. However, Anderson acknowledged that the pandemic situation could change that.
Anderson says that the WIAA is working with various health and government officials to determine guidelines for practices and games across the country. He also says in a 'matter of days' sport-specific guidelines will be issued to schools.
Dr. Tim McGuine, a member of the WIAA's Sports Medical Advisory Committee, told the Assembly that two-thirds of student-athletes surveyed indicated anxiety or other mental health issues related to school shutdowns, and that the quality-of-life scores were the lowest he'd ever seen.
McGuine added that mental health of student-athletes should be considered when discussion long-term school closures, adding that there's also misconceptions about the impact of the coronavirus on the age group of high school student-athletes.
On the field, Anderson was asked about procedural matters for competition. Anderson told the Assembly that if a school cancels its season in a sport, the opponent, if they are still playing, would receive a forfeit victory.
Fall sports could look different as well. A scenario brought up by the WIAA panel was shortening the football season to help acclimatize the athletes, which could include canceling the first two weeks of competition or eliminating one level of the playoffs. For all sports, Anderson said sport-specific guidance would be available in a matter of days, and later was amended to 'hopefully' by the end of the week.
Current guidelines are in place for summer contact days only, but are only guidelines. Anderson added near the end of the session that they are working with officials on a plan for their return.
Financially, Anderson told the Assembly that the WIAA is able to stay afloat for now, but said it's in their best interest to return to play as soon as is safe.
One of the final points brought up was in regards to transferring in the event of a school not offering a sport or cancelling it in the wake of the pandemic. Anderson said that to date, a sport not being offered hasn't been a sufficient reason to grant a transfer.
At today's Board of Control meeting, Anderson says that they will propose to the BOC an easing of restrictions on eligibility due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, and how it has affected the availability of doctors to conduct sports physicals.