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AIA delays Arizona high school winter sports until January 2021

Posted at 2:10 PM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 16:12:07-05

The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) decided Thursday to delay winter sports competitions until January 5, 2021.

AIA officials met with health and school experts throughout the week before coming to the decision. High school coaches had been in limbo for some time, not knowing what the outcome would be, while still having players practicing and doing everything they could to stay safe.

Saguaro High School Boys' Basketball Head Coach Lucas Ramirez spoke with us last week, saying the team still practiced and workec out six days a week. Every day his players went through a health screening, and he, on his own, has tested for COVID-19 weekly.

AIA Director David Hines said that the end goal was to have at least some portion of a season for all three winter sports.

“We feel that the students are safer within the school environment than not to be in school at all,” said AIA Executive Director David Hines. “Delaying the start of the season will give our coaches and administrators time to implement safety protocols and put sports modifications in place. Just like getting fall sports off the ground, doing things the right way will allow for our sports to continue.

“The Executive Board felt it was necessary to fight for these students to have a chance. They see the need in the schools they are representing,” Hines added.

Officials say schools must have a minimum of 14 days of practice before any competition can begin.

The start of the competition season will depend on the following measures:

  • If a student-athlete participates with a non-school team/group, that student-athlete is excluded from practice and competition with the school team for 14 days since the last practice or competition of the non-school team/group.
  • All winter sports modifications [] are required.
  • No fans will be permitted until metrics are appropriate. AIA staff will be communicating with schools and districts statewide to evaluate readiness on a regular basis.
  • No scrimmages, invitational tournaments or region tournaments will be allowed.
  • No out-of-state competitions will be allowed.

Officials say the first date of practice for spring sports has been officially pushed back one week from Feb. 8, 2021 to Feb. 15, 2021.

As of right now, championships in all spring sports will remain as scheduled as per the AIA’s calendar.