IHSA to hold regional postseasons in fall

Darren Kinnard

BLOOMINGTON — There will be no state tournaments or meets for fall sports this year. That is the word from the Illinois High School Association following its Board of Directors meeting Monday.

The Board approved a plan for a “single round of regional geographic competition”. Tuesday, the IHSA announced the boys and girls golf postseason will be held October 6 and 7, with the other sports to be held the week of October 19-25, with the majority of events expected to be held on Saturday, October 24. Most schools only scheduled golf competitions through the final week of September to allow for the two weeks needed for a regular postseason of regionals, sectionals, and state meets. Fall sports in the modified 2020-21 school year include boys and girls cross country, boys and girls golf, girls swimming and diving as well as girls tennis.

“The health and safety of the student-athletes, their coaches, and their school communities has been our priority from the start of the pandemic,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Throughout the spring and summer, we looked for ways to reengage student-athletes with their peers and coaches, and our membership has shared countless positive experiences from that initial ‘return to play’ period. We have found similar value in being able to conduct fall sports, and believe the participants deserve a culminating experience if we can offer it safely.”

These modified regional postseason tournaments will meet all Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines. The IHSA will release further details about each state series in the coming weeks. One detail the IHSA did release, the Board approved a $100 state series entry fee for any school entering a team or individual in any of the fall sports. This will be the first time since 2004-05 the IHSA has charged tournament entry fees.

“The IHSA office is charged with the responsibility of being a good steward of the Association’s finances,” said Anderson. “The past few months have seen a significant reduction in the IHSA’s income, given the cancellation of the IHSA Boys Basketball State Finals and the entire spring season. Financial challenges remain on the horizon in 2020-21 due to the limited number of sports currently classified as ‘low risk’ by the state, making the chances of conducting full state series tournaments unlikely at this time. ”

The Board later tabled a recommendation to approve a budget for the 2020-21 year.

“In addressing the financial challenges currently facing the association the IHSA continues to discuss the budget for the 2020-21 school year that currently reflects approximately a 40% percent reduction in expenses from 2019-20,” said Anderson. “The financial strains placed on many businesses due to COVID-19 are also being felt by the IHSA. As a non-profit organization, the IHSA relies on fan attendance at IHSA postseason events to account for approximately 70% percent of our annual income. We have made considerable reductions already, and realize that more will be forthcoming as we navigate the challenges of this school year.”

In other business, the Board approved moving the Girls State Softball Finals to the Louisville Slugger Complex in Peoria. The softball finals have been held at the Eastside Centre in East Peoria since 2001.

The Board also heard a presentation from representatives from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association about the implementation of a shot clock in boys and girls basketball. The Board took no action but, along with IHSA staff, will work with the presenters on potential next steps.