HUNTINGTON — Winter sports in Kentucky will not see action until after the New Year following a ruling by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association on Wednesday.
During its Board of Control meeting, the KHSAA voted to push back the start of winter sports until Jan. 4, meaning basketball, cheer, dance, wrestling and swimming and diving all will see their seasons delayed.
The meeting had several points and counterpoints with favor and opposition for an array of topics, which led to a lengthy six-hour discussion that ended with both sides agreeing to discuss further at its December meeting.
From the beginning, KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett made clear his stance on pushing the start of those sports seasons back, given the current spike in COVID-19 cases and the information presented by health and safety boards.
Tackett acknowledged that many would be upset by the decision, but cited that the numbers don’t lie, in regards to the current status of sports moving forward with the start of seasons.
“Trying to start before Christmas break ... is an invitation to disaster,” Tackett said during the meeting.
The hottest topic of debate was not necessarily pushing the winter seasons back; instead, it was getting a proper timeline for when the Sweet Sixteen basketball championships would be played.
The options included pushing the whole season back and running a full basketball season, which might run into the spring sports seasons or whether to condense the basketball season and continue on a timeline that ends the tournament in March.
At meeting’s end, the board voted to play an eight-week regular season in basketball, which shrinks it by four weeks. After that regular season, district tournament play would start March 1 with regionals the following week.
One item that still needs to be ironed out is the state tournament situation, which would be March 17-21 for girls basketball and March 24-28 for boys basketball.
Tackett noted a scheduling conflict at Rupp Arena during the final week of March, which brought on a special Dec. 10 meeting to outline that particular issue.
The issues with basketball come after practice had already started in late October due to the pandemic. Still, several teams have seen COVID-19 issues that have forced stoppages of practices, which is why Tackett’s recommendation came to delay the start of the season.
There were several who voiced their desire to see the season begin on Dec. 14, which would’ve followed a three-week delay pattern similar to what occurred with the start of fall sports seasons.
While the winter sports seasons has been delayed, the current football playoffs will continue as scheduled with games starting this weekend and progressing to the championship games, scheduled for Dec. 18-20 at Kroger Field.
Tackett said that the differences in venue structure and protocols were a reason for the comfort level of football moving forward.
“We feel good about the continuation of the football playoffs,” Tackett said. “Number one, it’s outdoors.”