There’s been another delay in getting winter sports started for West Virginia high schools.
Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday during his coronavirus briefing that winter sports practices have been pushed back to March 1. Originally, most sports had been scheduled to begin practice on Nov. 16, but shortly before that date, they were pushed back to Jan. 11 as COVID-19 numbers increased around the state.
“I hate this like crazy,’’ Justice said, “but we’re going to have to move our winter sports to March 1, so that’ll be the start-up date. With sports, you’ve got all kinds of interaction that causes us all kinds of problems.’’
The move affects boys and girls high school basketball, wrestling and swimming in West Virginia. Obviously, state tournament dates in those sports, which were revised by the Secondary School Activities Commission in November, will have to be moved again. Boys basketball (April 6-10 under the first revised timeline) is scheduled as the final winter sport to conclude.
There was no immediate word on what the decision will do to spring sports in the state, which were set to begin practice on March 15 under the revised guidelines, though condensing seasons is now likely.
“Someway, somehow, I really and truly believe that Bernie Dolan and the SSAC ... they’ll figure it out,’’ Justice said. “It may be abbreviated. But right now, it’s as simple as mud — we can’t go into gymnasiums, we can’t bring people in, parents, whatever, to watch games with what we’ve got going on today.
“We’re on the brink right now of a vaccine and really being able to vaccinate a ton of our people and maybe cripple this cycle we’re in. I am positive now that we have got to push out our winter sports, and we’ll deal with [spring sports] when we get there. There’s still a lot of time left in the school year to be able to play and have your sports. Just think of the numbers that we’ll have vaccinated at that time.’’
Dolan said meetings are set for next week to devise new schedules — a Zoom meeting Tuesday with committee members who are coaches in winter and spring sports for what he called a “roundtable discussion,’’ and then another meeting of athletic directors and principals on Wednesday to begin formulating a plan to hold all winter and spring sports.
“I do think it’s doable,’’ Dolan said. “There’s going to be more overlap [of seasons] than normal — normally there’s three weeks on the boys side, so overlapping a few more might be difficult. Smaller schools, especially early on with that overlap [could be affected]. But one thing with four classes now in basketball is that nobody should need more than two games [to win] their section.’’
Dolan didn’t think moving back the SSAC championship events would become an issue with those respective venues.
“I would not anticipate any problems,’’ he said, “as long as we nail down dates soon and contact them. These venues want to work with us, and they want the events to happen at their facilities.’’