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MHSAA officially cancels spring and winter sports, putting an end to the 2019-20 athletic year

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, April 3, 2020, 1:01 pm

It took a day to process, but the MHSAA came to the decision we’d sort of all expected.

Spring sports — as well as the remainder of the winter postseasons — are canceled, following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order on Thursday closing all K-12 schools in Michigan through the remainder of the academic year.

It will be the first season that does not see finals played in multiple sports since 1942-43, during World War II.

The MHSAA did not immediately react after Thursday’s announcement from downtown Lansing, rather spending the next 24-plus hours processing the executive order’s clauses, and weighing options.

The MHSAA’s Executive Committee met last week and put forth a number of contingency plans for the possible completion of the winter seasons and an abbreviated spring campaign, but those were all moot after Thursday’s closure of the schools. 

Friday’s decision was all but inevitable.

“We are heartbroken to not be able to provide these opportunities for Michigan’s student-athletes, and especially seniors. We continue to hear from dozens asking us to hold out hope. But safety always must come first, and Governor Whitmer is making courageous decisions to safeguard the people of our state,” MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl said in a news release. “We understand as much as anyone how much school sports mean to athletes and their communities. We had ideas and hopes for finishing Winter and Spring and helping bring some sort of normalcy after this long break. But this is the correct decision, and we will play our part in bringing schools and communities together again when the time is right.

“For now, we cannot state strongly enough that all students, staffs and others follow the guidelines established to slow the spread of this virus — we all must do our part.”

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RELATED: MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl explains the agonizing decision to cancel remainder of winter and spring sports; ‘My heart absolutely breaks for kids in the class of 2020.’ 

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MHSAA sports have been on ‘pause’ since March 12, and the association has closely followed the lead from the governor’s office throughout, extending the duration of the hiatus as the outbreak worsened across the state. Originally set to continue the winter season with limited spectators, the MHSAA quickly changed that to put the winter postseason on ‘pause’ less than a day later, then extended the period of suspension of all sports activity — games, practices, weight training, etc. — from April 5 to April 13, as Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders went from advocating social distancing to a stay-at-home order.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) made a similar decision Thursday, after Gov. Eric Holcomb closed the Hoosier State’s schools through the rest of the school year.

The Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAA) quickly expressed its support for Friday’s decision by the MHSAA.

“The guiding principles of the MHSAA is to support educational athletics and … we must do our part in protecting the health, safety and well-being of students, teachers, coaches, officials and fans,” a news release from the MIAAA stated.

“During this time of uncertainty, the MIAAA Executive Board and Board of Directors are available to assist the membership and their schools to manage their way through this time.”

No champions will be recorded for gymnastics, boys and girls basketball, hockey or boys swimming and diving, but championships won at the district or regional level all still stand, the MHSAA said.

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RELATED: Q&A with MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl, after Friday’s decision to cancel remaining 2019-20 sports seasons

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With the ending of the possibility of competition yet this spring or summer, the MHSAA said it will turn its attention toward giving member schools guidelines “pertinent to this unusual offseason,” in preparation for the fall.