NJSIAA Sets Deadlines for Potential Spring Season, Limits On State Tournament
The NJSIAA is still not giving up on the prospect of a spring sports season, but for the first time since the mass-closure of schools in N.J. due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NJSIAA is naming important dates in and putting restrictions on a potential shortened season.
In a memo sent to member schools Friday morning that was posted on social media by several coaches, the NJSIAA named June 30 as the last possible day of the spring season and Memorial Day as the deadline for the start of the season in order to conduct sectional tournaments.
According to the memo, if the season is permitted to start prior to Monday, May 25, the NJSIAA plans to conduct "modified Sectional tournaments in late June."
By specifying a plan to play "Sectional tournaments" the NJSIAA has effectively ruled out playing through to overall group championships.
"At this stage, based on the return date, post-season play could range from a sectional tournament to only regular-season played without a post-season," the NJSIAA said in a statement released on social media and posted to its website.
If, however, a season is permitted to begin, but not until after May 25, the NJSIAA will not run any version of a state tournament. Schools and conferences would, however, be permitted to schedule and play games up until June 30.
In the first of four modifications listed in the memo, the NJSIAA made it clear that the spring sports season would be "extended to June 30, but not beyond that."
Modifications three and four pertained to the two different scenarios for the state sectional tournaments - No. 3 addressing the pre-Memorial Day start date and No. 4 the post-Memorial Day start date.
The second item on the list of four addressed required practice time for athletes in the event of a start to the season. As is the case at the start of any athletic seasons, athletes would be required to practice six times with one day of rest before being eligible to participate in a regular-season game. Scrimmages would count toward the practice tally, but only after three practices have been completed.
While the NJSIAA is remaining open to conducting a season after Pennsylvania's governing body (PIAA) announced Thursday that the spring season in its state is canceled, New Jersey's interscholastic sports body drew its first lines in the sand with its memo on Friday.
Early in the shutdown, the NJSIAA asserted its commitment to provide spring athletes with some form of competition in which to participate, but the June 30 deadline to conduct games suggests playing games in July was a bridge too far for enough key people in the process.
Now, athletes, coaches and administrators will wait for news that would impact whether or not competition could realistically be held in some capacity either before May 25 or after May 25 but before June 30.
If the season were allowed to begin after Memorial Day, the Shore Conference would be permitted to hold a tournament and Shore teams could schedule games, as long as any season or tournament concluded by June 30.