OHSAA cancels winter sport tournaments

By: 
Seth Kinker
Sports Editor
Last Tuesday, Mar. 17 Ohio High School Athletic Associaton (OHSAA) member schools were requested to watch a press conference at noon where OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass met with a small contingent of media while live streaming to those at home to give an update on postponed winter and spring sports. 
 
Regarding winter sports tournaments during that conference, Snodgrass noted the "window of opportunity" for winter sports was closing quickly. 
 
Now, there is an answer. On Mar. 26, the OHSAA released press release on their website stating winter sport tournaments would be canceled. That release is bolded below. 
 
 
OHSAA Winter Tournaments Move from Postponed to Cancelled
Winter tournaments of wrestling, basketball and ice hockey will not be completed
 
COLUMBUS, Ohio –The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that the winter sports tournaments of wrestling, basketball and ice hockey, which were postponed indefinitely on March 12, are now cancelled due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. It is anticipated that schools will not be able to reopen for many weeks, which prevents interscholastic athletics from taking place.
 
The start of the OHSAA’s spring sports of softball, lacrosse, baseball, track and field and boys tennis is still postponed, which coincides with schools not being open.
 
Earlier Thursday, OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass and his staff communicated with the schools that were still competing in those winter tournaments to announce the decision.
 
“We are just devastated that the tournaments cannot be completed,” said Snodgrass. “But our priority is the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, communities and officials. Governor Mike DeWine is asking all Ohioans to do everything they can to stop the spread of this virus. That request, along with our schools not being able to reopen for weeks, means that school sports cannot happen at this time. Even if our schools reopen this spring, it will be difficult to find facilities willing to host the tournaments. Most campuses are shut down until mid to late summer.
 
“We are already planning for ways that these student-athletes will be honored at next year’s state tournament,” said Snodgrass.
 
The 16 schools that qualified for the girls basketball state tournament and the four teams that qualified for the ice hockey state tournament will all receive state tournament programs. The 672 student-athletes who qualified for the wrestling state tournament will all receive a program, certificate and their weigh-in card.
 
These four winter state tournaments and a few events during World War 2 (1941-45) are the only sports cancellations in the history of the OHSAA, which was founded in 1907.
 
No state champions will be listed for these four sports in 2020. The OHSAA does not use state polls from the media or coaches associations to determine state champions.
 
A reminder that OHSAA coaches can communicate electronically with their student-athletes, but no practices, scrimmages or contests of any kind are permitted until further notice.
 
On March 13, Snodgrass sent this memo to member schools: https://www.ohsaa.org/news-media/articles/ohsaa-winter-and-spring-sports...
 
More information regarding spring sports will be provided when available.
 
 
 
 
 
Timeline
 
On Mar. 10, Governor Mike DeWine ordered that all indoor sporting events in Ohio would continue without most spectators in attendance to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
 
The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) sent out a press release that same day that OHSAA tournaments would follow that order. 
 
“This will be a very difficult time for our schools and fans, but we cannot ignore the directive of the Governor,” OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said in the Mar. 10 press release. “We are pleased that our tournaments can continue and we will soon determine who can attend. However, we can already say that it will most likely be no more than the immediate family of the student-athletes participating in the event.”
 
Mar. 10 boys regional tournament games proceeded with fans while the OHSAA said it would announce how tournaments would proceed moving forward the next day. 
 
Later that day, all previously purchased tickets for wrestling, ice hockey and girls and boys basketball were deemed void as new instructions for ticket sales were drawn up that permitted student athletes to designate four family members who would be permitted to purchase tickets. 
 
All events surrounding the games were also canceled. Those included special presentations, halftime entertainment, various meetings, merchandise sales, and other display booths. 
 
“This will be a very difficult time for our schools and fans, but we cannot ignore the directive of the Governor,” OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass said. “We are pleased that our tournaments can continue and we will soon determine who can attend. However, we can already say that it will most likely be no more than the immediate family of the student-athletes participating in the event.”
 
By Mar. 12 the situation with COVID-10 had escalated quickly nationwide as well as worldwide and at 12:45 p.m. the OHSAA announced that all remaining winter tournaments were immediately postponed. 
 
“We will use this time to work with the appropriate state authorities and health experts to determine our next steps moving forward,” Snodgrass said in the Mar. 12 press release. “We realize this is disappointing for our participants and their fans, but the overall health and safety of everyone involved in our tournaments is our priority.”
 
The Mar. 12 press release also stated no timetable had been determined for a possible rescheduling for the tournaments. 
 
On Mar. 13, following DeWine's orders to close schools for an extended period of time, the OHSAA implemented an indefinite no-contact period from Mar. 17 to Apr. 5 that included a mandatory shutdown of athletic facilities. 
 
On Mar. 17 OHSAA member schools were requested to watch a press conference at noon where Snodgrass met with a small contingent of media while live streaming to those at home to give an update on winter and spring sports.