OHSAA director says many athletics decisions up to governor, locals

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has offered yet another confirmation fall sports are still planned for the fall in Ohio.

That was among the messages Bob Goldring, the interim director of the organization that overseas high school sports in the Buckeye State, conveyed during a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

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"Our first priority is really to start our seasons on time with practices Aug. 1 and the contests to follow," Goldring said one week and a day after replacing Jerry Snodgrass.

Beyond that, though, Goldring made clear many decisions regarding the fall sports season will be made by others.

“I think I should be clear that first of all we want to take the lead from the governor’s office, and we don’t want to do anything that conflicts with what he has in mind with his team of experts, including the medical folks, on moving forward,” he said.

The OHSAA still plans to devise guidance for schools to follow this fall, but it remains to be seen what types of activities Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health deem allowable as it continuers to monitor the coronavirus pandemic.

“The real priority is just giving our schools some level of comfort that things will happen and if they do, here are some recommendations that you need to follow,” Goldring said. “And obviously the governor is going to come out with mandates of things that you need to follow.”

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A temporary clearance for contact sports to hold intersquad competitions is set to expire Wednesday, and further guidance is expected from DeWine’s office and the ODH soon.

“It’s a fluid situation and with cases continuing to rise, I’m really not sure if they can say (requirements will be lessened), and we have to be prepared to pivot from that.”

If all fall sports are cleared by the governor, Goldring said many other decisions would then be left to the local level.

That includes local health departments and schools themselves determining how many — if any — fans are allowed in the stands and what to do if one or more members of a team tests positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“Some (schools) may quarantine a student, and some may quarantine a class,” Goldring said of a hypothetical positive test. “Some people may decide to go virtual-only for their entire school if they have a positive case, so right now our mindset is that would be a local decision. Obviously we’re going to gain clarity from that — we hope to gain clarity from that — from the governor’s office. And if that is something that they’re expecting us to decide for athletics, that’s something that we’ll have to talk about and finalize as a staff and make sure again that our board is in line with that.”

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While playing fall sports this fall remains a priority, Goldring also confirmed the OHSAA would consider alternatives if necessary, including delaying the start of the fall season or playing some fall sports in the spring.

“I hate to sound like a broken record, but our main objective setting here on July 14 at 2:34 p.m. is to move forward as we had planned with our regular 10 sports in the fall, but it would be be naive to think that there are not other options out there if our plans are derailed. I think that’s maybe a simpler way of saying that.

“If our plans get derailed, mostly coming from downtown and our governor’s office with delaying or mandating only noncontact sports, or even postponing totally our fall sports, then I think we would pivot to look in part at our other options.”

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