July 7, 2020

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home : local sports : local sports

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COVID-19 causes cancellation, suspension of local sports

By Josh Brown
Daily Record

Continued concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic have led to some difficult decisions across the sports landscape, which have trickled down from the professional side, to college and even the high-school and junior high level, including schools and teams here locally.

The sports world has basically come to a standstill as a result of leagues and organizations suspending and in some cases cancelling sports seasons, some of which had just begun or were about to begin.

The most impacted at this point locally is Vincennes University, who just recently had the remainder of their spring sports cancelled, as well as the men's basketball team's chance to play in the national tournament, as a result of a decision from the NJCAA.

"Following the recent recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the NJCAA has made the difficult decision to cancel all upcoming basketball championships as well as spring competition, effective immediately," a press release issued Monday said.

"In light of the progressive evolvement of the COVID-19 situation, the NJCAA has decided to end all competition for the remainder of the academic year," NJCAA President & CEO Dr. Christopher Parker said. "As an association, the NJCAA exhausted all possible avenues to potentially postpone competition for both upcoming basketball championships and spring sport competition. We believe following the recommendations of the CDC is in the best interest of our member colleges and our student-athletes."

The release continues, saying that spring competition includes all practices, regular season, postseason, and national championship play.

Regarding eligibility for spring sports, no spring sport student-athlete who was enrolled at a member college in 2020 will be charged a year of participation.

Along with the cancellation of competition, all on and off-campus recruiting for all sports will be halted until April 15, with further evaluation to be assessed at that point in time.

The NJCAA will explore the opportunity to expand allowable Letters of Intent for spring sports for both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years under the recommendation of the NJCAA Eligibility Committee.

The NJCAA will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as more information becomes available.

Meanwhile, six local wrestlers - Kyler Guercio, Dylan Camden, Dylan Aten, Hudson Meek, Shaina Hyre and Brianna Richey - across three different federations were set to compete in their respective state meets last weekend, but concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 brought all those tournaments to a halt.

"All of these young athletes had worked very hard to attain their goals this year and will lose their opportunity for the greater good of the health and safety of all the people in our nation who could have potentially been affected by a fatal virus if decisions were not made to do what is necessary to slow and hopefully stop its spread," coach Sam Hyre said.

In addition to those tournament cancellations, the IESA cancelled the remainder of the postseason volleyball tournaments, while the IHSA cancelled the remainder of their winter sports seasons, which included the boys' basketball state tournament, Scholastic Bowl sectionals and state tournaments and several other events.

"We appreciate the patience and understanding that we have received from everyone involved in this process over the past 72 hours," IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a press release late last week. "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. 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."

"Since the last release the IESA sent concerning the suspension of the IESA state volleyball series due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the possibility of a re-scheduling if the situation would allow, much has changed locally, statewide, nationally, and globally," IESA Executive Director Steve Endsley said in a press release Sunday. "The following information was sent literally minutes before we were notified Governor Pritzker mandated that all schools must close from March 17-31. To that end, even if we would have been able to get things rescheduled, the Governor's mandate would have made an already very difficult process to reschedule, even more difficult. In addition, we have notified the entire membership that the remaining IESA activities for the 2019-20 school year - Bowling, Music Organizational Contests, Scholastic Bowl and Track & Field - are planned to be conducted as scheduled. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will communicate the status of the state series for our membership as we get closer to each event."

In conjunction with that thought, the IHSA and IESA spring sports schedules are currently on hold as well due to the state of Illinois mandating the closure of schools for a minimum of two weeks, while the suspension of the season could last longer should the governing bodies adhere to the recent CDC recommendation of no events with 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.

Another local casualty due to school being cancelled is Lawrenceville's junior pro basketball league, as the remainder of the season has been cancelled.

Also affected at the local and national level is Little League Baseball. Little League International issued a request last week that all of their leagues across the world suspend operations until at least April 6, then sent out a follow up request to all leagues Monday to extend the suspension to at least May 11.

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