After a day or two of its membership getting riled up by self-invented rumors of further delays and even possible cancellation of winter sports, the KHSAA board of control reaffirmed its prior decision Thursday to start basketball practice next week, with games remaining on track to start Monday, Jan. 4.
The board voted 12-5 to uphold that plan, previously approved at a special session in November.
Earlier in Thursday’s virtual meeting, the statewide group of administrators voted 14-3 to approve a new time window of March 29 to April 8, 2021, to hold both Sweet 16 state tournaments.
That is substantially later than the initial start dates of March 3 and March 10. During the discussion, KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett stated frankly that the tournament needed to be held “as late as we possibly can,” implying financial concerns.
The cancellation of both tournaments this past March as well as the entire spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic created a steep financial shortfall for the sanctioning body.
Sweet 16 tournaments at the end of the 2018-19 generated more than $961,000 in revenue. The boys’ state tourney was responsible for $837, 383 of that, making it four times more lucrative than the second-highest revenue championship, football.
To that end, the board weighed the possibility of holding the basketball tournaments April 24 to May 9. That was voted down by a slim, 9-8 margin.
There was concern, especially among smaller schools, about adding to the overlap between winter and spring sports, creating conflict for athletes who are counted on to play both seasons.
Spring activities are expected to start around their normal mid-to-late March date, although there was no official vote Thursday.
Winter practice traditionally begins Oct. 15. It was delayed until Oct. 26 this year. Games then were slated to tip off Nov. 23 before last month’s emergency decision — less than a week before that date — to hold off until after New Year’s.
Basketball teams now could conceivably play close to a traditional, 30-game schedule. If fall sports was any indication, however, cancellations and quarantines due to coronavirus almost certainly will cut into that total.
Many districts, including Scott County, declined to participate in regular season games against so-called “red” counties in the fall.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.