In a shocking development, the Illinois High School Association announced Wednesday that the start of the winter sports calendar, which includes boys and girls basketball, will start as scheduled.
“The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors made the decision today to continue with the IHSA basketball season as scheduled in 2020-21," the IHSA board said in a statement. "In August, the Board slated basketball to take place from November to February based on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) assigning a medium risk level to the sport. The IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offered additional mitigations, such as masks during play and social distancing on benches, that the SMAC believed would allow basketball to be played safely."
In accordance with guidance from the IHSA Sport Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), the IHSA board signaled that practices can begin on November 16. Games can begin November 30th within an Illinois COIVD Region or within a conference. And as a part of the mitigation plan, masks will be worn by all players, coaches, and officials during play.
However, the IHSA voted to move wrestling from the winter season to the summer season, which will start in April.
Pritzker responded to the IHSA decision in a statement Wednesday.
"We've told school districts what the rules are and I think they all know. The IHSA may have their views on it but the school districts know the rules. It's unfortunate...they could be taking on legal liability."
On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said basketball and wrestling were "on hold." The Illinois Department of Public Health had also moved basketball from a moderate risk to a higher risk sport, per their Sports Safety Guidance policy.
In a statement Tuesday, IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson stated that the IDPH had accepted the IHSA’s mitigations related to other sports, including cheerleading and dance. Those sports were allowed to move from a medium risk level to a low risk level.
Numerous high-profile holiday boys basketball tournaments have already been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Pontiac, the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, the Big Dipper at Rich South, Centralia and many others.
Football, a mainstay in the fall sports calendar, was shifted back earlier this summer by the IHSA as part of a modified spring sports schedule. Practice is currently scheduled to start Feb. 15.