School districts opting to suspend or delay sports and activities this fall may have an outlet for those participants to still enjoy a modified season during the 2020-21 school year by the end of the week.
On Monday, the Kansas State High School Activities Association presented an alternative fall sports model for approval to its executive board. With a unanimous 9-0 vote, the model was approved.
Now it will be voted on at 3 p.m. Friday by the 78-member board of directors. With a majority vote in favor, an alternative fall model will be put in place and made available in which those activities — cross country, debate, football, girls golf, gymnastics, scholars bowl, boys soccer, girls tennis and volleyball — would be contested in March and April of 2021.
"The model would provide an opportunity for students in our member schools unable to play in the months ahead with an opportunity to benefit from interscholastic activity participation when it is appropriate in their school communities later in the year," KSHSAA executive director Bill Faflick said.
Last week, Faflick sent out a letter to every school district in the state announcing that the KSHSAA staff had developed an alternative fall sports model to be presented to the executive board and then, if passed, to the board of directors.
In the proposed alternative model, practices for all fall activities except scholars bowl and debate would begin on March 1, with those two activities proceeding with their original start date last Monday. The remainder of the sports would then have their own parameters in which to conduct their seasons.
• Cross country: First day of competition: March 17. End date: April 23. No. of competitions: 5 meets.
• Football: First day of competition: March 17. End date: April 23. No. of competitions: 6 games.
• Girls golf: First day of competition: March 5. End date: April 12. No. of competitions: 6 tournaments.
• Gymnastics: First day of competition: March 19. End date: April 23. No. of competitions: 8 meets.
• Boys soccer: First day of competition: March 12. End date: April 23. No. of competitions: 12 matches.
• Girls tennis: First day of competition: March 5. End date: April 17. No. of competitions: 6 tournaments.
• Volleyball: First day of competition: March 12. End date: April 23. No. of competitions: 27 matches.
For all fall sports being played in the alternative model, there will be no postseason competitions. Team championships for any sport in the traditional fall will be held as long as there are eight or more participating schools in the respective classification.
"We believe that if it is appropriate and we conduct championships in the fall, that is our state championship series," Faflick said. "We would not award championships to potentially the fewer schools who choose to participate in the alternative fall season in March and April."
Participation in an alternative fall model is optional for any school district in the state and districts must decide by Sept. 21 to commit to the alternative fall season. Schools may choose to participate in the traditional fall in some sports and the alternative fall in other sports.
Teams may start the traditional fall season and then also participate in an alternative fall provided they do not exceed limitations set on each sport.
• Cross country: four meets or beyond Oct. 10.
• Football: 5 games or beyond Oct. 17.
• Girls golf: 5 meets or beyond Sept. 26.
• Gymnastics: 6 meets or beyond Sept. 26.
• Boys soccer: 9 games or beyond Oct. 10.
• Girls tennis: 5 meets or beyond Sept. 26.
• Volleyball: 20 points or beyond Oct. 10.
Only a handful of school districts across the state have canceled or suspended the start of activities this fall. The Kansas City, Kan., public schools canceled all fall activities and Wichita USD 259 followed suit last week, although a special board meeting was held Monday night and the decision is under review.
The Shawnee Mission, Olathe and Blue Valley school districts all suspended the start of their activities, while Topeka USD 501 canceled the opening week of football games while allowing all other sports to continue as normal.
Faflick said that if the alternative model was approved by the board of directors, the schools most likely to opt in would come from metropolitan areas.
"We’re probably more likely to see this implemented at the 4-5-6A level based upon where we are right now, but not certain as to where we’re going to be as we progress through the next several weeks as this becomes critical and we head to some major decision points and decision days," he said.
An alternative fall model also could lead to a delayed spring season or perhaps a split spring season. Schools would be banded into Classes 3-2-1A and 6-5-4A and in order to implement a delayed spring season more than half of the combined schools in each band would have to participate in the alternative fall season in one or more activities.
All spring activities within a band will follow either the traditional spring calendar or the alternative delayed start/end spring calendar.
In the delayed spring calendar, practices for baseball, boys golf, girls soccer, softball, girls swimming/diving, boys tennis and track and field would begin on March 28 instead of the traditional March 1 date. Competition in tennis would end June 12, in golf June 21, in swimming/diving June 19, in baseball and softball June 25 and in soccer and track and field June 26.
Transfer eligibility was also discussed, noting COVID-19 would not be considered a hardship for students wishing to transfer from one school to another.