A no vote on a proposed plan means Oklahoma high school athletics and activities can resume June 1 — at each school district’s discretion.
The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Athletics Association board voted against a proposed plan for a phased return to sports during a special board meeting held Friday morning.
Board members voted down the plan 7-6 — which means summer camps can start immediately and other activities can start June 1 without COVID-19 restrictions, if schools decide to do so.
McAlester football coach Forrest Mazey said he knew it was a tough decision by the board, and knows that the Buffs administration will work to put its own plan in place.
"Do I think it was a quick decision that nobody saw coming? Yes. But by rule they couldn’t amend it and had to vote on it," Mazey said. "I wasn’t opposed to what they had planned, but I just want my kids back."
Other coaches around the area expressed those same sentiments about reconnecting with players.
"The girls have done a really good job of staying in shape and putting in the work on their own, but there's nothing like being back in the family atmosphere that surrounds our team and we can't wait," Crowder girls basketball coach Ashley Rush said. "We will obviously follow the chain of command on what is and isn't allowed, but as soon as we're given the green light to go, we will be getting back to work."
At the start of the meeting, executive director David Jackson expressed gratitude for the hard work of the board, and unveiled its plan that had been revised as early as Friday morning.
“If we’re to have fall activities, we’re all going to have to work at this thing,” Jackson said.
He also reminded members and administrators that while they’ve issued this guidance, this isn’t meant to be a punishment if someone were to be turned in.
“We don’t want this to be punitive,” Jackson said. “We’re trying to provide some guidance to get us to the fall."
Discussion amongst the board members talked of a few possible revisions, mainly in Phase 1. Most members argued that the period is possibly too long or restrictive, and doesn’t coincide with Gov. Stitt’s Open Up and Recover Safely (OURS) plan.
Southeast Quadrant representative and Kiowa superintendent Rick Pool mentioned that he’d like to see Phase 1 shortened, allowing practice to start June 15 to help with re-conditioning and having a month to quarantine if a player was to get sick.
“From what these kids have missed…I don’t think they’ll be ready to practice June 1,” Pool said.
Many others followed suit, while also sharing concerns that each district is seeing different impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.
Pool then suggested approving the document as is until the June 9 board meeting, where amendments and changes could be made.
“This is a growing document,” Pool said.
After a motion by Pool, which was seconded by vice president Mike Simpson, the approval was denied.
Teams may now hold summer camps and clinics, and practices are still restricted until June 1.
Here is the proposed plan that was voted down by the board:
In Phase 1, lasting from June 1 to June 28, coaches will be allowed face-to-face contact with players. No practice, camps, clinics, or leagues may be conducted, but strength and conditioning are permitted. One-on-one instruction will be permitted.
Temperature checks will be conducted upon arrival, and anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or above will be immediately sent home. If a person is sent home, they will not be allowed to return on the same day.
There will be a two-person maximum at any piece of equipment, and spotters must wear a mask. All groups must stay six feet apart, and hands must be washed and equipment disinfected every 30 minutes.
Coaches must wear face masks, and no one-on-one scrimmaging. Additionally, for baseball and softball, no infield or outfield drills and batting practice must only be live pitch with no catcher or from a tee.
Phase 2 will begin June 29 and last thru July 31. In this phase, activity-specific instruction may begin. All participants must comply with social distancing measures, and no activity will be longer than 60 minutes. Football practice can be held if it is non-contact only.
Training devices like air and stand-up dummies, tackling wheels or blocking shields may be used.
Intrasquad scrimmages will be allowed in this phase, as well as tryouts. As for band, cross country, fall baseball, fast-pitch softball and volleyball, unrestricted practice may begin on July 15.
Phase 3 will start Aug. 1 as practice may continue for band, cross country, fall baseball, fast-pitch softball and volleyball, but all other activities shall stop specific instruction.
Contact Derek Hatridge at email@example.com.