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AHSAA Central Board Approves Return to Play ‘Best Practices’ for Winter Sports and Fall Playoff Format

Central Board Approves AHSAA Return to Play ‘Best Practices’ for Winter Sports and Fall Playoff Format

Montgomery, AL – The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control approved the AHSAA’s Return to Play ‘Best Practices’ recommended guidelines for Winter Sports Thursday and also approved Fall Sports Championship changes at its annual fall meeting Thursday. The action was taken at its annual summer meeting in Montgomery.

The Winter Sports Return to Play ‘Best Practices’ follow the most recent Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and AHSAA Medical Advisory Board recommendations for sports such as boys’ and girls’ basketball, wrestling, boys’ and girls’ bowling and indoor track. Full Winter Sports Return to Play recommendations can be found at:
https://www.ahsaa.com/Portals/0/Winter%20Sport%20Best%20Practices_1.pdf 

The Fall Sports Playoff adjustments became necessary due to health and safety regulations that restrict the number in attendance at the venues. Among the changes approved was a GOFAN Fall Championship Ticketing plan that will manage the ticket limitations at each venue and will require tickets to playoff events (except cross country) be purchased digitally.

Instructions for the digital ticketing plan will be available at www.ahsaa.com by Saturday.

Among the fall sports championship play changes was establishing a sub-regional round for volleyball teams advancing out of Area Tournament play in an effort to provide more opportunities for fan attendance. Attendance will be limited at the Super Regional and State Tournament venues due to health and safety regulations. 

The sub-regional rounds for Classes 1A, 2A and 6A are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 16 and for Classes 3A, 4A and 5A, Saturday, Oct. 17. Some sub-regional matches will be played today for those that requested an earlier time. The winners of sub-regional playoff matches will advance to either North or South Super Regionals next week, October 21-23, at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center (North) and Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum (South). The top four finishers in each regional will then advance to the AHSAA State Championships, which are now set for October 27-29 at the Birmingham CrossPlex and Bill Harris Arena. Due to the attendance limits, the arenas will be cleared after each session in an effort to clean the facilities and provide opportunities for more fans to attend.

 The link for volleyball changes can be found at: https://www.ahsaa.com/Sports/Volleyball

Attendance for the football playoffs, which get underway Nov. 6, will be restricted to 33% based on current ADPH recommendations. The AHSAA will continue to study the stadium capacity data submitted by school superintendents and will continue to evaluate and update over the coming weeks. The Super 7 Championships at the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium has set a limit of 7,200 per session.

Those attending the State Cross Country Championships at Oakville Indian Mounds State Park have some attendance instructions provided at the site entrance. Due to limited internet access, tickets will available onsite. And for Swimming & Diving, the State Championships are being moved from Auburn University to the larger Huntsville Aquatic Center for 2020 to better accommodate attendance and social distancing. Section swim meets will not be held.

AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese praised the Central Board for its leadership and commitment providing member schools the tools to return to play as safely as possible.

“The purpose of the Return to Play document has always been to offer AHSAA member schools best practices in order to commence those athletic seasons as scheduled and as safely as possible,” said Savarese.

Central Board president Keith Bender, who is retiring at the end of the 2020 year, announced he was stepping down from his position as president. The Board elected Van Phillips, principal of Center Point High School, to fill the remaining half-year of Bender’s term.

Bender was presented a plaque of appreciation from the AHSAA by the Executive Director.  Savarese also announced the impending retirement of Mark Jones, AHSAA Director of Officials, and named Assistant Director Ken Washington as the interim director. Washington will assume the duties as Director of Officials following the interim period.

He thanked both for their leadership and dedicated service to the AHSAA and its member schools and congratulated Phillips for being elected to serve out the remainder of Bender’s term.

He thanked each for their leadership and dedicated service to the AHSAA and its member schools.

In other Board action Wednesday:

·         Heard a presentation from Michael McGreevey of Knight Eady concerning Super 7 Championships

·         Approved the 2020 Super 7 Budget

·         Approved the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game and North-South All-Star Game Budgets for 2020

·         Heard a financial report from Amy Gulledge

·         Approved GOFAN Fall Championship Ticket plan

·         Approved a plan to establish sports officials coordinators for the sports of baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, track, volleyball and wrestling