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UPDATED: MHSAA postseasons impacted by coronavirus; games put on pause, postponed indefinitely

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, March 11, 2020, 10:26 pm

UPDATE: The MHSAA has put the postseason on ‘pause.’ CLICK HERE for the most up-to-date news.

At this point, the postseason may go on, but it might be in front of fewer — or no — spectators, to help inhibit the potential spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced Wednesday night that it was planning on finishing out the remaining winter season tournaments as scheduled, but is beginning to put in place plans for those tournaments to conclude with spectators either prohibited from attending, or limited in numbers. 

The MHSAA boys swimming and diving championships scheduled for Oakland University and the Holland Aquatic center will be conducted with no on-site spectators. 

Wednesday’s news release gave a timetable of 10 a.m. Thursday for further clarification on the remainder of this week’s basketball schedule — Thursday’s regional finals for girls and Friday’s district finals for boys — along with this weekend’s hockey semifinals and finals and gymnastics finals.

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UPDATE (10 a.m., Thursday, March 12): The MHSAA added gymnastics individual finals to the list of events with no on-site spectators alowed, while hockey semifinals and finals, and the conclusion of this week’s boys and girls basketball districts and regionals, as well as the gymnastics team finals will be played with spectators limited to parents, legal guardians and essential administrators. See the full list below.

Fans unable to attend can watch most of the events on MHSAA.tv. Streaming of the swimming and diving finals and both gymnastics finals (individual and team) will be provided free of charge.

The MHSAA will again update the situation at 2 p.m. Thursday. 

UPDATE: (2 p.m., Thursday, March 12): A no-update update, essentially. From the MHSAA site:

“As this remains a fluid situation, and in order to provide the most current information, the Michigan High School Athletic Association is preparing an update on Winter postseason events to publish before the close of business today (4:30 p.m.).”

For what it’s worth, the Indiana High School Athletic Association has taken similar steps of restricting spectators [STORY], but the Ohio High School Athletic Association went a step further, and has postponed all further winter tournament play.

UPDATE: (2:25 p.m., Thursday, March 12): All MHSAA winter tournaments are suspended, effective immediately and indefinitely due to concerns related to COVID-19. This is a pause in the post-season; updates and press release to follow. [NEW STORY]

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Plans for the remainder of the girls and boys basketball tournaments will be announced by Monday, March 16, the release said.

The announcement comes on the heels of the first two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Michigan on Tuesday, and as many other sporting leagues and associations were making similar decisions.

“While this is unfortunate for many reasons, we intend to do everything possible to allow our students who have earned the opportunities to compete at these highest levels to do so. However, we also take seriously our responsibility to help slow the spread of this disease,” MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl said in the release. “We will continue to follow guidance from the Governor’s office, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, county health departments and our member schools, maintaining the flexibility necessary to allow us to finish this winter season and provide opportunities for lifetime memories to be made while keeping all involved in our events as safe as possible.” 

As of 10 p.m. Wednesday night, the NBA had announced it was suspending play following the conclusion of the night’s schedules, and the NCAA announced fans would be excused from “upcoming championship events, including the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, with only essential staff and limited family” allowed. 

The Ivy League canceled all games and practices through the rest of the academic year, and many Michigan colleges and universities — Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Michigan State, Oakland, the University of Michigan (Dearborn and Ann Arbor campuses) — were opting for online-only instruction.  

Up-to-date information on the MHSAA’s plans can be found HERE.

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SPECTATOR INVOLVEMENT AT THIS WEEK’S MHSAA EVENTS:

HOCKEY SEMIFINALS/FINALS: Spectators limited to parents, legal guardians and essential administrators.

GIRLS BASKETBALL REGIONAL FINALS: Spectators limited to parents, legal guardians and essential administrators.

BOYS BASKETBALL DISTRICT FINALS: Spectators limited to parents, legal guardians and essential administrators.

GYMNASTICS TEAM FINALS: Spectators limited to parents, legal guardians and essential administrators.

GYMNASTICS INDIVIDUAL FINALS: No on-site spectators.

BOYS SWIMMING AND DIVING FINALS: No on-site spectators.