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AIA board votes to postpone winter sports until Jan. 5
Prep Athletics

Fans cheer on the Prescott boys basketball team as they host Bradshaw Mountain on Feb. 7, 2020. The AIA Executive Board has voted to postpone the 2020-2021 winter season until Jan. 5, 2021, due to a rise in COVID-19 cases across the state of Arizona. (Courier file photo)

Fans cheer on the Prescott boys basketball team as they host Bradshaw Mountain on Feb. 7, 2020. The AIA Executive Board has voted to postpone the 2020-2021 winter season until Jan. 5, 2021, due to a rise in COVID-19 cases across the state of Arizona. (Courier file photo)

EDITOR'S NOTE: For a related story, click here.

PHOENIX — With the state of Arizona seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks, the Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board decided Thursday to postpone the beginning of the winter sports season until after the New Year, according to a news release.

AIA board members voted to begin the 2020-2021 winter season Jan. 5, 2021, which is when the first game can take place for basketball, soccer and wrestling teams.

“We feel that the students are safer within the school environment than not to be in school at all,” AIA Executive Director David Hines said in a statement Thursday. “Delaying the start of the season will give our coaches and administrators time to implement safety protocols and put sports modifications in place. Just like getting fall sports off the ground, doing things the right way will allow for our sports to continue.”

Hines added the executive board felt it was necessary to “fight for these students” by giving them a chance to still play the season.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported that a total of 19,193 Arizona residents tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday, with 4,123 giving a positive result.

In Yavapai County, 101 new COVID-19 cases were reported just 24 hours after a record 135 were reported by Yavapai County Community Health Services.

HOW IT WORKS

Schools must have a minimum of 14 days of practice before any competition can begin Jan. 5, 2021.

The start of the season will depend on the following measures:

-If a student-athlete participates with a non-school team/group, that student-athlete is excluded from practice and competition with the school team for 14 days since the last practice or competition of the non-school team/group.

-All winter sports modifications are required.

-No fans will be permitted until metrics are appropriate. AIA staff will be communicating with schools and districts statewide to evaluate readiness on a regular basis.

-No scrimmages, invitational tournaments or region tournaments will be allowed.

-No out-of-state competitions will be allowed.

-Any suspension or discontinuation of the winter sports season will occur according to information provided in the Return to Sport and Athletic Activity Guidelines, which can be found at aiaonline.org and dCourier.com.

POSTSEASON

AIA conference leaders will meet at their earliest convience to develop qualification procedures and minimum number of contests needed for postseason consideration in the 2020-2021 campaign, according to a news release.

SPRING SPORTS

The first date of permissible practice for spring sports has been officially pushed back one week from Feb. 8, 2021, to Feb. 15, 2021. As of right now, championships in all spring sports will remain as scheduled as per the AIA’s calendar.

Follow Brian M. Bergner Jr. on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud at @TheEditorDesk. Email him at bbergner@prescottaz.com, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.

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