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CHAMPAIGN — On the evening prior to a significant IHSA Board of Directors meeting, coaches from the next level of athletics threw their support behind high schoolers statewide.

Illinois football coach Bret Bielema, men's basketball coach Brad Underwood and baseball coach Dan Hartleb all tweeted Tuesday night about the IHSA, each discussing the return to play topic that should heavily feature in Wednesday's IHSA board meeting.

"Had a great conversation (Tuesday) with #IHSA leadership," Bielema wrote. "I had an incredible playing experience in multiple ILL HS sports and hopefully all involved can agree on a safe path forward for current HS students to create similar memories. Illini FB is here to help #famILLy."

"Spoke today w the #IHSA, which offers sport opportunities to 300,000 young people each year here in Illinois," Underwood wrote. "Illini Basketball is supportive of the coaches & student-athletes in our great state, and we want to be a resource as IHSA continues working toward a safe return to play."

"We all appreciate the hard work the @IHSA_IL is doing to put student-athletes in a safe environment," wrote Hartleb, whose children, Zak and Haley, are Champaign Central graduates and former Maroon athletes. "We feel for the many young athletes that have lost seasons and opportunities. We will continue to keep a positive attitude and outlook! We’re here to help!"

The IHSA board is expected to discuss scheduling for the 2020-21 winter, spring and summer sports seasons. Illinois' prep sports competitions and team practices have been on hold since mid-November by order of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The winter sports season, which includes basketball and boys' swimming and diving, was slated to begin Nov. 16.

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at, or on Twitter at, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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