IHSA sports will occur during the 2020-21 school year, the organization's Board of Directors has announced, though in a significantly altered format that includes football, volleyball and boys' soccer being moved from fall to spring and the creation of a "summer" season.
An IHSA press release Wednesday afternoon, following a board meeting that began earlier in the day, outlined how the IHSA will operate its athletic events calendar amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"I applaud our Board of Directors for choosing a model that allows every student-athlete the opportunity for a modified season," IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said in a press release. "Based on our recent conversations, it is our expectation that today's plan meets all of IDPH's safety guidelines and will be approved."
The following sports are among those that will take place in fall, between Aug. 10 and Oct. 17: boys' and girls' golf, boys' and girls' cross-country, girls' tennis and girls' swimming and diving.
The following sports are among those that will be held in the winter, between Nov. 16 and Feb. 13: Boys' and girls' basketball, wrestling and boys' swimming and diving.
The following sports are among those that will happen in the spring, between Feb. 15 and May 1: Football, volleyball, boys' soccer.
And the following sports are among those that will play out in the summer, between May 3 and June 26: Baseball, softball, boys' and girls' track and field, girls' soccer and boys' tennis.
"This plan, like nearly every aspect of our current lives, remains fluid," Anderson said. "Changes may come, and if they do we will be agile while putting safety and students first. It was important that we provide a framework today for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and officials to begin preparing for the 2020-21 school year."
The announcement comes about three hours after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced he was imposing restrictions upon youth and adult recreational sports, including IHSA activities, in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Pritzker's guidelines, which go into effect Aug. 15, include a risk level for each sport — lower, medium or higher — imposed by the Illinois Department of Public Health as a means of assessing the likelihood for COVID-19 to be spread or contracted while an event occurs.
No sports in the higher category are being contested before Nov. 16 under the IHSA's plan.
In accordance with Pritzker's guidelines, programs involved in the IHSA's new fall sports schedule "will begin with competition limited to conference opponents and other schools in the same general geographical area," according to the IHSA's press release.
That press release also indicates "state series tournament decisions will be made on a sport-by-sport basis as each season progresses, but providing postseason opportunities remains a priority of the Board."
Pritzker's guidelines include a "Type of Play Levels" section that indicates what athletes are able to participate in given where their sport falls on the risk tier chart. There are four "Type of Play" levels, and Levels 3 and 4 address postseason events.
In Level 3, "state- or league-championship games/meets (are) allowed for low-risk sports only." In Level 4, "tournaments, out-of-conference/league play, multi-team meets, out-of-state play (are) allowed); championship games allowed."
No sport currently is in Level 4. Lower-risk sports presently are in Level 3.
The IHSA board also permitted winter, spring and summer sports an additional 20 days of contact between Sept. 7 and Oct. 31. The board additionally "verified that IHSA bylaws do not prevent schools who are conducting remote learning from participating in IHSA sports and activities," according to the press release.