VHSL Executive Director clarifies the fall sports situation as we stand today

Dr. Billy Haun doesn't have all the answers yet, but he knows the questions people are asking

Charlottesville, Va. – What the fall will look like for your students athletically? Before high school sports teams can begin practice an action plan must be submitted, and it has to be approved by the department of education... not the VHSL.

“This is not just a plan for athletics, the plan that gets submitted is for summer school, if you’re going to bring students into your building. Any activity that you’re going to have in your building, whether its athletic or academic, you’re going to use that plan for everybody, explains VHSL Executive Director Dr. Billy Haun.

The plan must follow CDC guidelines which include strategies to protect the health of students and staff, and how to implement daily health screenings.

10-Sports has contacted a number of high school athletic departments in SW Virginia, and we’ve been informed that many districts are working on their plans for the DOE, or have completed it and sent it in. The athletes may begin to workout with restrictions one day after the school district has submitted their plan to the state. While these off-season workouts are individual in nature, many are anticipating the move to Phase 3, where the hope would be that larger groups(teams) could practice together in the traditional fashion. Haun was conservative in saying that we have no idea what Phase 3 will actually look like until we get there.

“It could be that in Phase 3 people may be surprised that Phase 3 athletics and extracurricular activities that it’s not much different than whats going to happen in Phase 2. I’m not saying its not going to happen, but I don’t want people to think it’s a given that it will happen, that as soon as we go into Phase 3 we can go into team practices and get ready to play because I don’t think that decision has been made yet,” Haun says.

The governor is expected to release the Phase 3 guidelines this week, with the original projection having no limit on gathering size. That could change, depending on what the Covid-19 infection rate numbers say.

But even if the Governor moves us to Phase 3 soon, that doesn’t guarantee their won’t be restrictions. And depending what those restrictions are, school districts may not be able to afford sports with restrictions in place.

“It’s going to be a real challenge for school divisions. For example if they come out and say you can have sports and activities but you can only have 50 or 100 people attend the games or you’re playing with no crowds present that’s going to create a challenge for schools. Even though kids can play, almost every school in the state of Virginia is depending on those gate receipts to help fund programs. Not every program makes money and the ones that do -- you depend on those gate receipts to fund other sports,” Haun said.

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