AHSAA sets rules for sports to return June 8; North-South All-Star Week canceled


South All-Star Jimmy Pitts of Notasulga makes a tough catch but is out of bounds during AHSAA Sports Week football at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Dennis Victory | [email protected])Dennis Victory | [email protected]

The Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association announced today it has canceled its annual All-Star Sports Week this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

AHSADCA director Jamie Lee made the announcement in a joint televised statement with AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese on Monday. Savarese re-iterated that he expects high school teams to be able to return to workouts in limited, non interchangeable groups on June 8.

The All-Star games, which pit North teams vs. South in multiple sports, were scheduled to be held in Montgomery July 13-17.

“One disappointing thing from our perspective at the Coaches and ADs Association is we will not be able to host our All-Star Games,” Lee said. “Our North-South All-Star events will be canceled for this summer. Not only was it having an issue with competition, but we also have an issue here in the city of Montgomery with housing. The No. 1 priority is the health and safety of those student athletes.”

The sports involved in All-Star Sports Week are football, baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, volleyball and cross country. Several rosters, including the football and girls and boys basketball teams, already have been announced. Lee said the others would be announced this week and those student-athletes would still be honored by their respective schools.

The North-South Football Game was scheduled to include seniors from the Class of 2020. The other rosters are comprised of members of the Class of 2021.

“It’s a safety issue,” said McGill-Toolen football coach Earnest Hill, who was slated to be head coach of the South All-Stars. “That’s the biggest thing. I’m disappointed because it would have been my first All-Star Game, but I totally understand it. It’s a health issue. I know some of the kids are disappointed. I’ve talked to some of the assistants, a lot of whom were young, and they were disappointed. But I told them just continue to do what you do and you might get another opportunity.”

Lee also said the Elite 100 Basketball Showcase scheduled for June also has been postponed. The AHSAA announced Thursday that there would be no summer competition (7-on-7, play dates, etc.).

The positive news from Monday’s news conference was that Savarese said the AHSAA continues to look forward to sports “not only returning June 8 but also returning to play this fall.”

Though mandatory practices are not allowed in the summer by the AHSAA, he said he expects schools to be able to return to weightlifting, conditioning and skills workouts when state superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey and Gov. Kay Ivey officially re-open schools.

Savarese said currently the number of student-athletes and coaches in one, non-interchangeable group is 10, though that number could change based on recommendations by the Department of Health. He said all students and coaches must be screened before being allowed to return.

He also said any non-essential personnel should not be allowed at workouts and, if they were there, they would count among the 10 players or coaches allowed in a particular group.

“We will have a set of basic health guidelines that will be posted on the AHSAA website once the governor releases her new set of guidelines later this week,” Savarese said. “It will be posted well in advance of the June 8 return to school.”

Other key guidelines set forth at this point include: any student or coach with COVID symptoms should be encouraged to stay home, equipment must be sanitized after each use and there should be no activity on campus prior to June 8.

“I thought it was very positive,” St. Paul’s head coach Steve Mask said. “I applaud the AHSAA, the state department of education and the state department of health for the opportunity to return. I think it has to make everyone at least feel good that there is a starting point now. There is a lot to be excited about. I’m very encouraged, and my hope is that all coaches adhere to the rules and guidelines going forward.”

Fairhope coach Tim Carter said he thinks everyone will adjust to the new rules.

“The main thing is everyone is operating under the same guidelines,” he said. “We are just in the midst of uncertain times. Everyone is doing the best they can. I know we’ll just be excited to see the kids. It will be good to try to slowly get back to normal.”