The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the state’s governing body for high school athletics, announced Tuesday that the start date for all winter sports has been moved to Jan. 19 because of concerns related to COVID-19.
Practices, which could have begun as soon as Dec. 5 for basketball, will go to the third Monday in January, CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini said. The CIAC mandates 10 full practices before regular season games may begin, leaving the first day for competition around Feb. 1.
«The conversation with the (Board of Control) was centered around seeing many school systems go to distance learning,» Lungarini said. «We are seeing more and more go to Jan. 19 as a date to return. When you look at the dates, New Year’s falls on Jan. 4, the first Monday. Follow the two-week standard to look at COVID data and it’s Jan. 19 on a school calendar.»
Lungarini said the Board of Control’s decision was based on a survey the CIAC sent to member schools about whether to continue athletics if faced with full remote learning.
Lungarini said 44.2 percent of those who responded said they’d continue practice and would allow games to be played. He said 14.7 percent would allow practices but no games and 41.1 percent said they’d suspend athletics completely if they went to distance learning for any reason.
«We’re looking at a 40 percent number if we moved to full distance model any time between now and Jan. 1,» Lungarini said.
Lungarini said CIAC officials would continue to meet in the coming weeks to determine potential end dates and state tournament dates for the winter season. He said all possibilities still remain, including a modified season in the second semester that would incorporate football and other sports whose seasons were shortened or postponed because of COVID.
«I think Jan. 19 is a very optimistic date,» Lungarini said. «Even schools moving to distance learning see Jan. 19 as a date most schools are anticipating returning. The two-week period following the first of the year is a date others think is a realistic time frame.»
Lungarini said winter sports may continue conditioning provided their school administrations approve.
«I’m not discouraged by this at all,» said Ledyard High School athletic director/assistant principal Jim Buonocore. «I still think we can get in a good chunk of the winter season and still have the opportunity for a ‘Fall-2’ season for sports that didn’t get to compete. We can do a spring season as well. We just have to get through these next few weeks.»