Aug. 1 is target date for fall sports

Despite a recent change at the top of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, the organization remains focused on having a fall sports season, though that certainly could change.

Bob Goldring took over as interim executive director on Monday, replacing Jerry Snodgrass who was executive director for two years following the 14-year tenure of Dan Ross.

Poland athletic director Brian Banfield, who is on the Northeast District Board, has been in contact with Snodgrass for the past month in preparation for fall sports.

“I do know, talking with Jerry over the last month, our main focus is to get ready for fall sports that begin on Aug. 1 and prep for a fall season,” Banfield said. “That hasn’t changed.”

Southington Schools Superintendent Rocco Nero, also a member of the Northeast District Board, said everything is on track for Aug. 1 to start fall sports.

“The plan is to go as planned is the last information that we got,” Nero said. “Things change daily. We’re still waiting. I would imagine within the next week or so we’ll know a little bit more.”

Athletes from golf, volleyball, soccer, girls tennis, cross country and football are working to prepare for this season. The OHSAA Board of Commissioners met Tuesday morning. Topics of that meeting were not known at press time.

“They’re plugging through to get ready for a fall season,” Banfield said.

He and athletic directors and coaches across the state are waiting for guidance from the OHSAA on how athletic departments should proceed with the fall sports as far as spectators and social distancing in stadiums and gyms.

There’s been a lot of uncertainty after the latter part of the winter sports season and all of spring sports were eliminated.

He is hoping that the programs at Poland and around the Mahoning Valley do not see any coronavirus spikes as they monitor athletes and follow protocols.

An idea apparently is floating around on social media that the OHSAA might move football from the fall to the spring.

Banfield said he put forth the idea to Snodgrass back in April for fall and spring sports to mostly flip for the 2020-21 school year.

Football, soccer, cross country and volleyball would be in the spring, while golf, tennis (boys and girls), baseball, softball, track and field, lacrosse and field hockey move to the fall of 2020. That was the suggestion from Banfield to Snodgrass and the Northeast District board.

Banfield said he thought it was a good idea as a backup plan for the upcoming season if things turned for the worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Banfield also sent his idea to the other Northeast-8 Conference athletic directors.

“It just so happened, an honest mistake, someone shared it within our group, put it out there and it went viral,” Banfield said. “It was just a brainstorming idea, just worst-case scenario. Let’s face it. It’s nearly impossible to run athletics for these kids in all programs if you don’t have a football season.

“There’s no secret that football pays the bills and helps out with all programs and all student-athletes from tennis to baseball to golf to you name it for these kids to enter tournaments. Back then, I was looking at anything that gives us a chance to get a football season in this year. I talked to Jerry briefly. I apologized. I said I didn’t mean this to go viral. This is a working document that we were just throwing around, looking at all ideas.”

The feasibility of moving football to spring doesn’t hold much traction. Preparation time would be cut down. Some schools, like Mineral Ridge, do not have field turf. The Rams still have natural grass, but are in the process of getting field turf in the next year or two, Mineral Ridge AD Tim Porter said.

“That field is going to get torn up so quick because of our great northeast Ohio weather,” Porter said. “If you put football immediately back in the fall (2021), is that field going to come back in time?”

Meanwhile, the Ohio Athletic Conference and Presidents’ Athletic Conference have cut their football seasons at the NCAA Division III level to conference-only contests.

Banfield said he hopes the OHSAA doesn’t do something like reduce the number of games in the football season.

“I would hope they revisit that because I think these kids deserve a 10-week season and a postseason,” Banfield said.

Football is the lifeblood of any Ohio athletic department and the OHSAA.

The organization lost $1.2 million when the winter sports state tournaments — girls basketball, wrestling and boys basketball — were canceled because of coronavirus.

Not having football would bankrupt the OHSAA, Banfield said.

“What we were told in a Thursday Zoom (athletic directors) meeting, without a football season they don’t have funds to get into the new year. That’s pretty much where we’re at right now,” Banfield said. “They need the playoffs. They need well-attended playoff games. It’s no secret after the winter and spring we had.”


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