WPIAL releases fall sports plan, pushes back start dates and playoff changes

WPIAL releases fall sports plan, pushes back start dates and playoff changes

The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League announced there will be fewer football games among other changes this season as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

On Thursday, the WPIAL board voted to trade the traditional start dates for a “hybrid” option, allowing later dates to be established for each sport and giving schools added flexibility as they transition back to class amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The new plan helps schools save money and helps limit potential spread of COVID-19. Plus it allows more time for schools to get cleaned and if there were any shut down period, there would be less games missed.

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Here is a breakdown of the new plans specific to each sport:

Football

  • Heat Acclimatization may begin as scheduled on Aug. 10, 2020
  • First Scrimmage Sept. 3, 2020; First Competition Sept. 10, 2020
  • With the high possibility of PIAA advancing the entry date to the state Football Tournament (as early as 2 weeks sooner than currently listed dates), the WPIAL needs to adjust schedules now to accommodate this change if later approved.
  • CHANGES TO CURRENT FOOTBALL SCHEDULE:
  • Conclusion of regular season will be on Oct. 23, 2020
  • New max competitions: 7
  • WPIAL Championship Schedule if PIAA offers state tournament:
  • WPIAL Championship Schedule if PIAA does NOT offer state tournament but advances the completion date for the season:
  • 2 Week Tournament (10/30/20 and 11/6/20), Qualifiers as follows:
  • 6A – Top 4 teams
  • 5A – Section Champions and 1 Wild Card Team based on Gardner Points.
  • 4A – Section Champions and 1 Wild Card Team based on Gardner Points.
  • 3A – Section Champions and 1 Wild Card Team based on Gardner Points.
  • 2A – Section Champions
  • 1A – Section Champions and 1 Wild Card Team based on Gardner Points.
  • All FOOTBALL Playoff information will be crafted and posted as part of the cover page on the WPIAL website, along with a new schedule grid.
  • PIAA Championships TBD

Girls’ Tennis

  • Regular season on a scheduled except with the new maximum competition number and with strict adherence to schools’ Athletic Health & Safety Plan as well as PIAA’s Return to Competition guidelines for Tennis
  • First Scrimmage Aug. 22, 2020; First Competition Aug. 24, 2020
  • *New Max Competitions: 14
  • WPIAL Tournaments on as scheduled
  • PIAA Tournament TBD

Boys and Girls’ Golf:

  • Regular season on as scheduled except with the new maximum competition number and with strict adherence to schools’ Athletic Health & Safety Plan as well as PIAA’s Return to Competition guidelines for Golf.
  • First Scrimmage Aug. 20, 2020; First Competition Aug. 24, 2020
  • *New Max Competitions: 14
  • WPIAL Tournaments on as scheduled, possible variations to Team Tournaments
  • PIAA Tournament TBD

Boys & Girls’ Soccer

  • First Scrimmage Aug. 29, 2020; First Competition Sept. 14, 2020
  • Athletic Directors must reschedule any section games currently scheduled prior to September 14, 2020 to a later date in the season at their discretion. All section games must be completed by October 20, 2020.
  • Strict adherence to schools’ Athletic Health & Safety Plan as well as PIAA’s Return to Competition guidelines for Soccer.
  • *New Max Competitions: 16
  • WPIAL Championships TBD
  • PIAA Championships TBD

Field Hockey

  • First Scrimmage Aug. 29, 2020; First Competition Sept. 14, 2020
  • Athletic Directors must reschedule any section games currently scheduled prior to September 14, 2020 to a later date in the season at their discretion. All section games must be completed by October 22, 2020.
  • Strict adherence to schools’ Athletic Health & Safety Plan as well as PIAA’s Return to Competition guidelines for Field Hockey.
  • *New Max Competitions: 14
  • WPIAL Championships TBD
  • PIAA Championships TBD

Girls’ Volleyball:

  • First Scrimmage Aug. 29, 2020; First Competition Sept. 14, 2020
  • Athletic Directors must reschedule any section games currently scheduled prior to September 14, 2020 to a later date in the season at their discretion. All section games must be completed by October 24, 2020.
  • Strict adherence to schools’ Athletic Health & Safety Plan as well as PIAA’s Return to Competition guidelines for Volleyball.
  • *New Max Competitions: 14
  • Must adhere to INDOOR Gathering Limit per state and/or local orders (SUGGESTIONS on how to comply with 25-person limit will be sent to schools prior to August 17, 2020)
  • WPIAL Championships TBD
  • PIAA Championships TBD

Boys & Girls’ Cross Country:

  • First Scrimmage Aug. 29, 2020; First Competition Sept. 14, 2020
  • Teams should strictly adhere to the schools’ Athletic Health & Safety Plan as well as PIAA’s Return to Competition guidelines for Cross Country.
  • *New Max Meets: 12
  • Regular Season Competitions:
  • Varsity, JV and MS Meets should be separate events to limit the number of participants at one time.
  • No more than 12 runners per team to reduce the number of people at the starting line.
  • Dual, Tri and Quad meets are acceptable as long as they comply with PIAA’s Cross Country Return to Competition Guidelines.
  • Teams are allowed to participate in Invitationals as long as host organization follows PIAA’s Cross Country Return to Competition Guidelines.
  • WPIAL Championships will be modified to comply with all state regulations as well as PIAA’s Cross Country Return to Competition Guidelines.
  • PIAA Tournament TBD

Middle School Sports:

  • Middle School sports are at the discretion of each individual school district and/or affiliated local scheduling group.
  • Schools must adhere to the above timelines and competition guidelines for purposes of developing an appropriate strategy for middle school sports.

WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman sent Channel 11 a statement:

“In light of the current situation faced by school districts, the state and the nation due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the WPIAL encourages everyone to be flexible and understanding of the fluid situation and know that the decisions made during the July 30, 2020 WPIAL Board meeting were difficult, but necessary during this unprecedented time. The decisions released today show that the WPIAL Board supports the successful opening of schools while remaining committed to offering meaningful seasons and championships for all sports. With the plan allowing for a gradual return to play, schools will still have the ability to practice and prepare without the added exposure from competitions. We look forward to the full return of school and sports but as with everything, we must adapt and overcome in the given environment.”

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association announced fall sports will go on as scheduled. However, rather than a one size fits all plan, the PIAA said the league will “remain flexible in considering that certain sports may be impacted differently and post-season play may need to be modified.”

The Allegheny County Health Department has said the state will ultimately make the call on sports, but the standards can be more strict locally.

PIAA moving forward with scheduled fall sports, guidelines specified