AIA executive board delays winter sports, implements new guidelines

PHOENIX — At a special meeting of the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Executive Board on Thursday, the board members voted to postpone the beginning of the winter sports competition season to a permissible start date of Jan. 5, 2021. The last permissible day of competition for winter sports will be Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, which includes any play-in competitions.

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.

Any suspension or discontinuation of the winter sports season will occur according to information provided in the Return to Sport and Athletic Activity Guidelines.

“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.

Conference leaders will meet at their earliest convenience to develop qualification procedures and minimum number of contests needed for postseason consideration. The first date of permissible 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.