• Michigan

Still awaiting answers from governor’s office on fate of fall sports in limbo, MHSAA admits ‘the clock is ticking’

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, August 26, 2020, 6:21 pm

All along, the executive director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association has said that the advantage they’ve had in dealing with preparing for this fall’s re-start to athletics after the spring shutdown was that they’ve had time.

But that time is not infinite, and it’s starting to get short for the three fall sports — volleyball, boys soccer and girls swimming — still in limbo in the vast majority of the state. 

As Mark Uyl said in his weekly radio appearance on “The Huge Show” Wednesday, “the clock is ticking.” 

Competition has begun across the state in cross country, girls golf and boys tennis, and football was postponed to the spring. The moderate-risk sports of boys soccer, volleyball and girls swimming have begun competitions in those regions of the state in Phase 4 of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but outside of Regions 6 and 8 — the Upper Peninsula and the tip of the Lower — those three are still on hold, awaiting the resolution of questions from the governor’s office on executive orders, and the opening of indoor facilities in Regions 1-5 and 7. 

That, Uyl said, has not changed, but needs to soon, if those seasons aren’t going to have to be scrapped for this fall.

“Don’t have much to update, other than conversations are literally ongoing currently. Our position — and what our schools’ position is, what our schools are ready to do — we have made very, very clear. It’s now up to Downtown Lansing to be able to make some decisions and give some guidance for what’s going to be allowed and what isn’t. It is no longer a decision that we as the MHSAA can make,” Uyl said Wednesday.

“We have to make sure we’re following all current executive orders — that is essentially right now what is the issue. The governor’s office is aware of that, and we’re continuing to work on the resolution. We’re also communicating loud and clear that the clock here is ticking, that right now everybody is in limbo, that this is not fair to our kids and coaches, and if the answer is ‘no,’ we need to know that. 

“And we haven’t gotten that answer yet, so because of that, we’re going to continue to fight and push and advocate for what our kids, our coaches, and our schools are telling us to do.”

Uyl reiterated that teams in those three sports in Regions 1-5 and 7 will be ready to go immediately once the green light is given. 

“That’s what our board said last Thursday, and all of our communication since last Thursday, none of that has changed,” Uyl said.

But with Labor Day fast approaching, those athletes and coaches are still waiting for direction. Is there a deadline, after which they’ll have to make other arrangements?

“The answer to that is ‘soon.’ I would think that the date, the month still has to begin with the letter ‘A.’ So, it needs to be soon. Right now, conversations are ongoing. We need help soon,” Uyl said. “Once that calendar would turn from August to September, that just becomes a bigger and bigger obstacle. The most honest answer I can give you is ‘soon.’ Have not yet put a date to it, but like I said, if this is going to be acceptable in some parts of our state, if we can move forward with activity in those three sports, I think in the other part of the state, it at least deserves a ‘yes or no’ answer as soon as possible.”



MHSAA adds offseason football practice dates, hopes to have spring season set-up settled by mid-September (Aug. 20)

MHSAA approves start of competition for volleyball, boys soccer, girls swimming in two regions; rest of state still awaiting clarification from governor’s office (Aug. 20)

Announcement from MHSAA on fate of volleyball, swimming and soccer postponed (Aug. 19)

• MHSAA’s Uyl explains decision to postpone football: ‘What we were getting from our schools … was really to pump the brakes’  (Aug. 17)

MHSAA pulls plug on fall football, announcing decision to move it to the spring (Aug. 14)

College cancellations won’t force MHSAA’s hand, executive director Mark Uyl says; ‘Don’t make decisions just because somebody else did’ (Aug. 12)

Lansing School District cancels fall extracurricular activities, including athletics (Aug. 7)

MHSAA Representative Council gives thumbs-up to on-time start for lower-risk fall sports, tables decision on competition for high-risk sports (July 29)

• MHSAA announces plan to begin 2020-21 school year as traditionally scheduled, leaving football (for now) in the fall (July 17)

• For now, plan is still to have fall sports in the fall, MHSAA reassures its membership (July 2)

What does the ‘MI Safe Schools’ return to school roadmap say about high school sports? Here’s a look (July 1)

Gov. Whitmer to MHSAA: Consider moving contact sports back from the fall (June 30)

• New allowance from from governor’s office doesn’t change much: Schools allowed to resume sports activities prior to end of 2019-20 school year (June 12)

• MHSAA updates guidelines, allowing northern Michigan schools to move workouts indoors starting Wednesday (June 9)

• MHSAA adjusts to curveball of early lifting of stay-at-home order, amends guidance doc for reopening sports  (June 2)

• Gov. Whitmer lifts stay-at-home order early, providing increasing clarity on ‘when’ high school sports can resume (June 1)

• MHSAA releases ‘Guidance for Opening School Sports’ document, outlining a roadmap of ‘how’ high school sports can resume in Michigan (May 29)

• Friday’s roadmap from MHSAA will give ‘how’ school athletics will return, but maybe not ‘when’: ‘We still can’t rush this’ (May 28)

• MHSAA gives schools heads up that ‘Guidance for Opening School Sports’ is coming next week (May 22)

• Q&A with MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl, after Friday’s decision to cancel remaining 2019-20 sports seasons (April 3)

• MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl explains agonizing decision to cancel remainder of winter and spring seasons; ‘My heart absolutely breaks for kids in the class of 2020’ (April 3)

• MHSAA officially cancels spring and winter sports, putting an end to the 2019-20 athletic year (April 3)

• Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces closure of Michigan schools for remainder of 2019-20, stipulates K-12 sports are suspended ‘while state of emergency … is in effect’ (April 2)

• With Gov. Whitmer reportedly set to close Michigan schools for remainder of academic year, can cancellation of high school sports be far behind?  (March 30)

• ‘What now?’ and ‘What next?’: A look at how Michigan’s prep athletes are coping with the ‘pause’ of the postseason, and what it might theoretically take to ‘unpause’ (March 17)

• MHSAA extends halt of athletic activities to include practices, scrimmages until at least April 5(March 13)

• MHSAA puts postseason on pause due to concerns over COVID-19 (March 12)

• UPDATED: MHSAA postseasons impacted by coronavirus; games put on pause, postponed indefinitely (March 11)