Nothing has officially been announced, but it is looking more as though basketball season will at least be delayed.
Apollo Conference member Mahomet-Seymour was the first school to officially declare its decision to pull out from the basketball season on Tuesday.
Mahomet, according to the Mahomet Daily, just had eight students test positive for COVID-19. The Mahomet-Seymour school system sent a letter to parents Wednesday stating that 87 students will be quarantined.
That’s likely a big reason school officials said they would await guidance from Gov. Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois High School Association before playing any games. In a statement, they added:
“As a member of a conference of schools, we also must acknowledge the need to coordinate contest schedules as well as the responsibility of serving the best interest of both our students and the students of other respective districts. As such, the predominant conclusion among Apollo Conference member schools is to abide by common legal guidance and engage in practices that are aligned with the ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education) and public health guidance, which now puts the ‘higher risk’ basketball season on hold.”
According to recent reports, the Apollo Conference made the decision to suspend their basketball season. The conference leaders were rumored to stick with the guidelines set forth by the IDPH, ISBE, and Governor Pritzker.
However, not all conference members have confirmed this notion, but it could be going down that path. If this happens, basketball season may not start until January, or could be pushed back to the spring season.
Mattoon school district superintendent Tim Condron said MHS is awaiting Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines before playing. “As of right now,” he said, “we will not start practice November 16th. We hope for additional information in the near future that will allow the season to start soon.”
Charleston athletic director Derrick Zerrusen indicated that CHS is also waiting for more guidance from Springfield, although he has a schedule in place.
On Oct. 28, the IHSA Board of Directors voted to allow teams to start the season originally as scheduled with practices set to start on Nov. 16 and games to begin on Nov. 30. That left individual districts to make the decision on whether to play.
That decision left school districts in a tough spot. The lack of insurance coverage for COVID-19 is a huge liability issue, which could set up schools for potential lawsuits and make administrators liable for damages, if the school disregarded Gov. Pritzker’s guidelines.
“Definitely a tough time in Illinois for athletes,” said Charleston boys basketball coach Brad Oakley. “The conference leaders have to do what they think is best.”
The IHSA Board of Directors met Wednesday for a special meeting, but had little clarity after the meeting.
“Hopefully, we are just suspending it and the kids will get to play later,” said Mattoon boys basketball coach Ryan Ghere.
In November, the IHSA will sit down with Gov. Pritzker to try and put a plan in place.
So players will continue to practice and wait.
“The players are disappointed and obviously would like to play,” said Oakley. “Hopefully, we will be able to play at some point this school year. We will follow the guidelines from the IDPH and try to allow players to get in the gym and improve their game.”