The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference announced formal plans to hold a traditional spring sports season on Thursday morning, but will continue to abide by the state’s Department of Public Health guidelines in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baseball will begin practice for pitchers and catchers on Saturday, March 20, while all other sports will start practice on Saturday, March 27. The first day of competition is Saturday, April 10.
State tournament and championship events will begin as early as May 28 (tennis) and conclude on June 11-12 with state championship games in baseball, softball, and lacrosse. There will be no New England championship competition this spring in golf or track and field.
There will be some specific rule changes in each sport due to COVID-19 restrictions, but for now the CIAC will follow the same mask protocols for outdoor athletes as it did in the fall. Athletes competing in outdoor sports can remove their masks for competition but must wear them to enter the venue and when on the sideline or dugout. Coaches and officials must always wear masks, and athletes can wear masks during competition if they choose.
The lone exception this spring is boys’ volleyball, the only indoor sport. Those athletes and coaches will be required to always wear masks.
The CIAC said it will leave the decision on whether to allow spectators up to each school district or conference. The Eastern Connecticut Conference and Shoreline Conference did not allow fans during the winter season but are expected to reevaluate their positions for the spring.
As for scheduling, non-conference and out-of-state games will be allowed “to the extent that they are scheduled for the purpose of reducing travel based on geographic location and that such scheduling is allowed by the out-of-state school’s interscholastic governing body and state rules.”
Conferences will also be allowed to stage postseason events.
On Wednesday, the CIAC announced it will hold a “Summer Series” of programs in football and wrestling, two sports that were affected most by the pandemic. The CIAC Board of Control voted to wave its out-of-season coaching rule. It will allow wrestling coaches to instruct athletes in non-school affiliated clubs from March 29-May 28, then – along with football – to continue instruction into June and July with a series of camps that will feature regional sites with up to four teams and allow five days of in-person coaching for 2.5 hours per day.
CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini told the New Haven Register that it was “a collaborative effort” between the football and wrestling committees, who will continue to engage in developing the final summer plan.
“It is important that this is reviewed, and we receive feedback by coaches, athletic directors and principals before any approval is made on it,” Lungarini told the Register. “There’s a lot of possibilities with this. That’s where coaches’ input in how this would work is critical.”