By LARRY VAUGHT
My friend, Betty Baird Kregor — who is still one of the best junior golfers I ever saw play in Kentucky — reached out to me with a simple question today.
“Is it true about KHSAA not allowing high school athletes to compete in summer tourneys/athletics ? Can’t find any definite info on that. Have seen a story on Facebook but want to verify,” she said.
I wasn’t sure, either, even though Kentucky High School Athletic Association commissioner Julian Tackett told us on WPBK-FM recently that even June activities might be way different this year and that was before the entire spring sports season was officially cancelled.
Tackett said basically that the “dead period” which prohibits high school coach and team activities remains in place as of today.
“It has not been revised in terms of restrictions and remains in place. As the designee of the Department of Education for all things athletics among those on rosters and enrolled, we must and have no choice but to adhere to current guidelines that have been ordered,” Tackett said. “This order through our office is the only of its kind that I can recall but is fully supported by state regulation because of our role with the Department of Ed. Nothing was EVER said about summer, it’s strictly an as of now thing.
“Certainly as things open up and we begin some phase of normal activity, it will need to be reviewed and likely revised. At that point, we can start to go back to the ‘old rules and bylaws.’ However it may be a lot longer for school owned facilities.
“Thankfully, this is all as of April 26, and always subject to change. And thankfully parents athletes and schools have signed through permission forms and membership applications that they will adhere which helps out state with potential compliance. Let’s hope this situation never repeats itself or needs to.
“In addition, in state or out of state, there is nowhere to play right now anyway. We have the benefit of time and science to determine next steps. No one is missing out on anything right now as no one is playing and current NCAA restrictions on in person recruiting are likely to be extended through May per Indianapolis sources.
“Private instruction for pay is a non essential public facing business so while that is restricted now, several including us have asked for official answers from the Capital and from Department of Health per current orders.
“This will pass, just not at the pace anyone would like. And I truly mean anyone. Lets hope it is sooner rather than later. But I am convinced that the more we delay, even in terms of days, it could add weeks to the amount of time we get to do things later in the summer. Let’s hope and pray that is the case.”
This is an email the KHSAA recently sent to school officials:
“The Association will continue to communicate with member school Principals, Athletic Directors and Superintendents as we navigate the various stages and phases of resuming sports and sport-activities for the fall. The current virus dead period provisions will remain in place until, at the very least, we as a Commonwealth are cleared to be considered into Phase 1 of the Federal and State guidelines. Before that time, staff will advise our member schools as to any changes to the restrictions moving forward. There is also no plan at this time to alter, in any way, the Bylaw 24 Dead Periods for the coming or specific restrictions on organized activity in football and basketball that is also contained in that bylaw.”
Another friend, Casey County athletics director Steve Stonebraker, doesn’t expect any “rash decisions” about shutting down high school sports and notes how college conference basketball tournaments and pro sports made decisions to shut down before the KHSAA stopped the girls state tournament.
“I appreciated the fact that the decision was held out as long as possible to give kids a chance to compete. The NCAA made the decision — in my humble opinion an economic one due to losing NCAA basketball revenues — to cancel spring sport championships in mid March. The KHSAA did not follow suit, at that time,” Stonebraker said.
“Kentucky high school spring championships were not cancelled until the decision was made to cancel school for the rest of the 19-20 year. I don’t know what future decisions will be made but based on this history there won’t be a ‘jump the gun’ decision to cancel high school athletics for months at a time. They will take time and look at what is going on with the reopening plan and schools and make decisions based on that for the short term.”
Stonebraker, like most of us, wants sports back. But he also knows Kentucky has to get to Phase 2 to think about sports.
“That’s the phase when school and kids activities can come back. Until that phase we won’t be doing anything with athletics. The other thing to watch is how we start the school year. If the school year starts as normal then sports can very likely be a part of that,” he said. “If there is a modified start to school where not all students will be in attendance each day, etc., then we are still likely looking at not having sports.
“We are all getting stir crazy but I think those are the two things we can look at and be hopeful for in getting a sports return of some normalcy.”