PIAA Fall Sports Season Is Still A Go, But With A Delay

Fall sports are still a go in Pennsylvania, but with a two week delay, the PIAA says, as the state association's spirited back-and-forth with the governor took another turn on Friday.

Despite Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf's recommendation against fall sports in the commonwealth, the PIAA said on Friday that it believes it can provide a "reasonably safe environment" for a sports season to occur amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The start of the season will be delayed two weeks with the season officially now set to start on August 24. In the meantime, the PIAA has asked Gov. Wolf and the Departments of Health and Education "to partner with us and work collaboratively to further discuss fall sports."

Things got interesting on Thursday, when Gov. Wolf gave a recommendation during a press conference that sports should not take place in PA until January 1, 2021. The PIAA responded saying it was "tremendously disappointed" in Wolf's statement. A week prior, the PIAA had laid out its safety guidelines and stated its intention for the fall sports season to happen.

On Friday afternoon, the PIAA held an emergency Board of Directors meeting and maintains that its season is still on, despite Wolf's call for no sports for the rest of the year.

"Based on currently known information, the Committee believes that STRICT ADHERENCE by schools and teams to their school-adopted plans and the Governor's School Sports Guidance should provide a reasonably safe environment for student athletes to participate in interscholastic athletics as currently scheduled," the PIAA said in its press release.

The PIAA is asking the governor to work together to come up with solutions to make sports a reality in Pennsylvania this fall. The PIAA noted the effect of a canceled or postponed season on "students' physical, social, emotional, and mental health" as well as the "financial inability of many students to participate in any other form of non-school based athletic programs."

During the media session, PIAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Lombardi noted cross country as a sport that, due to its low risk distinction, should get an opportunity this fall.

The PIAA said that voluntary workouts can continue -- with local approval -- for now, while the start of mandatory practices has been paused for a two week period, meaning the official start of the season is August 24. 

The PIAA plans to meet again on August 21. Read the PIAA's full statement here.