MURRAY – In a virtual Board of Control Meeting on Wednesday, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association unanimously decided to postpone the start of the high school winter sports calendar until Jan. 4. All indoor sports are affected by this decision, including boys’ and girls’ basketball, cheering and others. The football playoffs, as of now, are unaffected.

The following is from the official announcement released by the board:

“The Board of Control conducted its third regularly-scheduled meeting of the 2020-21 academic year on Wednesday and elected to postpone the start of the winter sports season to Jan. 4 by unanimous vote. In congruence with the Governor’s order issued later the same day, official practice for all indoor interscholastic winter sports shall cease on Friday, Nov. 20, at 5 p.m. and is planned to resume on Monday, Dec. 14. This cessation will apply to all indoor interscholastic sports at all school levels, including but not limited to, basketball, bowling, competitive cheer, dance, indoor track and field, swimming and wrestling.

“Details regarding any allowances for indoor interscholastic sports, which will be restricted prior to Dec. 14, will be distributed to the membership prior to the Governor’s ordered shutdown of school-related in-person activity on Friday, Nov. 20. The season calendar for each winter sport, as well as current virus data and any potential adjustments to the start and end dates for spring sports, will be reviewed in a follow-up meeting of the Board of Control currently scheduled for Dec. 10. The Board’s approved motion for basketball also included authorizing the association to attempt to negotiate the dates for the Girls’ and Boys’ Sweet 16 during NFHS calendar weeks 37 and 38, and is pending final confirmation of specific available dates with the Lexington Center and Rupp Arena.”

“Our board has remained steadfast in their support for the spring sports and sport-activities in 2021 and continues to attempt, during these challenging times, to ensure these athletes, coaches and schools have a full and complete season with an appropriate culminating event,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett in the release. “We should never forget the sacrifices made by all involved during the spring of 2020 and that has remained at the forefront of board discussions. The currently approved action would shorten the winter seasons, but the board and staff continue to recognize that during these pandemic times, there will be nearly constant changes in the operations around education and school-based sport.”

“The ongoing football playoffs were also addressed on Wednesday, with the board authorizing the commissioner to adjust the schedule for the state finals as necessary depending on the ever-developing situation with COVID-19 and facility availability,” the release said. “It was noted following the meeting that the Governor’s executive order and references to the KHSAA in that order apply to indoor sports, and there has been no adjustment to the completion of any KHSAA fall sports championship.”

Basketball practices had just gotten underway for high school when the KHSAA made their decision. Murray High boys’ head basketball coach Dior Curtis was disappointed, but found a positive way to look at it.

“The start of basketball getting pushed back was unfortunate, but we understand the     COVID numbers are so high,” said Curtis. “As a program, our guys have been working really hard to get ready for the season up to this point. With the pushback, it will give us some time to get some practices with our entire team. We have some key guys that play football and a key player that is recovering from surgery, so by Jan. 4, we hope to be at full strength. Our guys are pumped that the season didn’t get completely canceled and look forward to the challenge ahead.”

The local schools’ athletic directors were supportive of the decision. Calloway County Athletic Director Greg Butler also mentioned the scheduling difficulties.

“There will be a significant amount of rescheduling,” said Butler. “I am disappointed for the athletes who again see their seasons being pushed back. With that being said, we also know that we must do our part to help our communities. If this delay helps control the spread, which in turn keeps our communities safe and healthy, then it will be worth it. At this time, we’re focused on trying to be prepared for that Jan. 4 start. We are trying to preserve as many opportunities for our children as is possible.”

Murray Athletic Director Ann Greenfield echoed Butler’s sentiments, with a charge for her kids.

“I knew it was coming, but didn’t know when and for how long,” said Greenfield. “Fall sports were delayed with fewer cases, so this delay was inevitable. I think it’s the right thing to do. The volume of people indoors in a swim meet or basketball game can be significant. We would have limited capacity if we started next week. Hopefully by Jan. 4, the numbers are down, and we can host meets and games safely, with better attendance numbers. All in all, our student-athletes just want to play. A delay is better than nothing. Mask up and do what is necessary to play.”

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