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

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, April 3, 2020, 4:45 pm

MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl was a guest on Friday’s edition of STATE CHAMPS! LIVE, in the aftermath of the association’s decision earlier in the afternoon to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 athletic seasons.

He was also able to take some viewer-generated questions about what happens next.

Here are those questions, and his answers:

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Q: How will students’ eligibility be affected for the fall, if there’s no spring season?

A: So a couple different approaches. I know, based on what we read in the governor’s order yesterday, those who are seniors will be given credit, and each school district will determine whether they’ve met the requirements for graduation in their district. As far as we understand, there’s no extra work required of seniors, unless they were behind in credits, and then they’ll have an opportunity to make those up. For juniors, sophomores and freshmen, they’re going to have ongoing educational opportunities here through the rest of the year, and then schools will award grades — and in some cases, schools will award those grades after the end of the online education here in the next six-to-eight weeks. Other schools, they’ll simply be awarded grades, and then those will be the grades that determine eligibility for the fall. … Whenever kids are ineligible at the end of the spring, they do have the ability to make up credits, and work over the summer to get themselves back in an eligible status for the fall.

Then it’s also important to know that all the incoming freshmen — so the current eighth grades that will be freshmen in the fall  — they all start with a clean slate, in terms of their academic eligibility. So really, current juniors, sophomores and freshmen, each school district will make those decisions here moving forward.

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

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Q: Will the MHSAA consider adding more basketball games, or lifting the restrictions on out-of-state competition (even for one year) to help reverse the effects the cancellations have had on recruiting? 

A: Both of those were actually getting conversation before the coronavirus pandemic. Increasing the number of regular-season basketball games, that’s actually something that our representative council will discuss and vote on in our meeting coming up in early May. 

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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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Q: Will teams that were playing for district or regional titles both be given trophies?

A: That’ll be another issue that we’ll work through. You had girls basketball that was at the regional championship level, you had boys (basketball) that were at the district championship level, ice hockey, we were all the way to the semifinals — again, there’s a number of issues we’ve gotta work through, one-by-one, next week, and certainly how we handle those that were still alive and participating in the winter tournaments, that will be one of those topics.

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Q: After the impacts of the pandemic play out, will transfer restrictions be eased for cases of financial hardship?

A: Due to financial hardship, that is not a conversation that’s been had yet. Next week, once we get our staff back together again, and begin to meet virtually, and look at next year, we’re going to work our way through a number of issues. Essentially, we’re now going to be in an out-of-season period coming up. So giving some guidance and leadership, as far as coaches connecting with kids right now virtually, as far as all those normal out-of-season activities. So naturally, the transfer rule will get some conversation, as well, because to to not have a season even start, that is uncharted water for all of us. The decision that has really driven everything up to today was whether or not we can play, and then next week is the time to now look forward to the 2020-21 school year, and start to take those questions, one-by-one.