Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, last year was a scheduling nightmare for the state’s athletic directors and coaches.
With the virus threat map and the restrictions, games had to be scheduled on the fly.
It caused a myriad of problems.
Opponents in the same color-code had to be found and games were played all throughout the week, even weekdays and Sundays.
For West Virginia High School basketball teams it’s already been a nightmare.
The original schedules were tossed out as the winter sports season was first delayed until Jan. 22.
And now comes a second delay with West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s recent announcement to push back the start of the basketball season until March 1 at the earliest due to a reported spike in statewide virus cases.
“The SSAC is supposed to meet on Tuesday with a round table of coaches and Wednesday they are supposed to meet with some athletic directors and principals about how they are going to do this,” Man High School coach T.J. Blevins said. “I’m anxious to see how this is going to go down. We don’t want to be in a situation where we have nine away games and three home. We’d like to meet with Bernie Dolan. These guys are not in the business to lose money. They have to make some money. They are struggling right now I’d say. I believe if it was up to him we’d be playing.”
It’s still unclear if the March 1 launch date is for the start of games or the start of practices.
With the WVSSAC mandated 14-day practice rule that would make a big difference.
If March 1 is the start date of the season then, presumably, practices would be allowed to begin sometime in February. That’s all unclear at this time.
“I would assume that’s the start to play date,” Chapmanville coach Brad Napier said. “I don’t think they can extend it much further than they have already extended it because of spring sports. I think the spring sports has to be finished before July 1st. At this point, I’m not sure how it’s going to work out.”
If allowed to start on March 1 a condensed season would then be played.
“I hope that’s the case, that they can still be able to do the state tournament in mid-April,” Logan coach Zach Green said. “We could get 10-12 games in and we could have somewhat of a season. That would be great. At this point, it’s hard to tell. Right now, we don’t have any direction from the SSAC as to what our schedules or practices would look like. We are really lost right now to where we go.”
Gov. Justice said it’s up to the WVSSAC to figure it out.
“Someway, somehow, I really and truly believe that Bernie Dolan and the SSAC ... they’ll figure it out,’’ Justice said. “It may be abbreviated. But right now, it’s as simple as mud — we can’t go into gymnasiums, we can’t bring people in, parents, whatever, to watch games with what we’ve got going on today.
“We’re on the brink right now of a vaccine and really being able to vaccinate a ton of our people and maybe cripple this cycle we’re in. I am positive now that we have got to push out our winter sports, and we’ll deal with [spring sports] when we get there. There’s still a lot of time left in the school year to be able to play and have your sports. Just think of the numbers that we’ll have vaccinated at that time.’’
WVSSAC Executive Director Bernie Dolan said meetings are set for this week to devise new schedules — a Zoom meeting Tuesday with committee members who are coaches in winter and spring sports for what he called a “roundtable discussion,’’ and then another meeting of athletic directors and principals on Wednesday to begin formulating a plan to hold all winter and spring sports.
“I do think it’s doable,’’ Dolan said. “There’s going to be more overlap [of seasons] than normal — normally there’s three weeks on the boys side, so overlapping a few more might be difficult. Smaller schools, especially early on with that overlap [could be affected]. But one thing with four classes now in basketball is that nobody should need more than two games [to win] their section.’’
Dolan didn’t think moving back the SSAC championship events would become an issue with those respective venues.
“I would not anticipate any problems,’’ he said, “as long as we nail down dates soon and contact them. These venues want to work with us, and they want the events to happen at their facilities.’’