Atlantic Shores vs. IWA (Photo: Lance Hinton/ recruit757)
VISAA announces that private schools may have fall sports
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
In contrast to the VHSL (the governing body for public school athletics and activities in Virginia), VISAA announced on Friday that Virginia’s private schools may procede with planning a fall sports season, but sanctioned state tournaments for all sports would be cancelled for 2020.
“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and after consideration of many factors, including the health and safety of all concerned and the operational challenges faced by member schools, the
Executive Committee of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) voted unanimously not to sanction any championships for the fall 2020 season. As a result, VISAA
championships in all sports for the fall 2020 season have been cancelled,” VISAA Executive Director Richard Kemper announced in a press release.
He continued: “VISAA recognizes that conferences and schools may make individual decisions to compete in fall sports. VISAA did not take any action with respect to winter or spring championships. VISAA expects to make a decision on winter championships by early November.”
So this means that individual schools and conferences could make the decision to build (or retain) their schedules and compete in fall sports.
The announcement prompted a variety of responses from member institutions, everything from cautiously optimistic to full steam ahead.
On Facebook, Life Christian Academy announced: “In accordance with VISAA guidance, Life Christian Academy will be playing fall sports. The VISAA has cancelled championships for the fall but will allow member schools to play sports as we see fit. Football is on!”
North Cross School athletic director Blair Trail was quoted by the Roanoke Times: “We have a lot of conferences up north who I don’t feel will be participating at all in athletics,” said Trail, who is a member of the VISAA executive committee. “So we felt it was correct in not having a state championship, but leaving the rest up to the individual conferences.
“We still have conference meetings next week, where we’ll see if our conferences still want to compete.”
Atlantic Shores head football coach Wayne Lance, who is also the chairperson for VISAA’s football committee, put out a tweet on Friday and said in part, “We are continuing to investigate all opportunities this fall. Stay tuned.”
When asked for additional comment, Lance stated: “At Atlantic Shores, we’re going to investigate our options. VISAA will do the same. The decisions will involve headmasters and school boards across the state. The conversations are ongoing.”
At Catholic schools like Roanoke Catholic and Virginia Beach’s Catholic High School, the decision to play sports has to go up the line to the Diocese. That adds another level of decision making for those schools.
So there is nothing definite for the private schools, but unless the VHSL changes course, there will be no football for public schools.
College recruiting, especially for seniors in the class of 2021, will be affected significantly. While you might think that a decision by private schools to play ball may result in a rash of transfers by public school athletes to private schools, there are several factors to consider.
1. Public schools may still have a football season in the spring.
2. Private schools do charge tuition and fees that public schools don’t, creating an additional expense for public school athletes coming into a private school.
3. Athletes who play a fall season at a private school cannot, by VHSL rule, transfer back into a public school and play an additional season in the same sport in the same academic year.
There are no easy answers. If some VISAA schools choose to participate in fall football while others don’t, you’re likely to see a shortened season with gaps in the schedule and no postseason.
The angst and the lack of a resolution continues for fall sports athletes, parents and coaches.
– Andy Hilton