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For California high school sports fans wanting clear answers to hard questions about the fall season, Ron Nocetti is always willing to talk.
But the California Interscholastic Federation executive director said those answers and contingency plans need to wait one more week.
The 10 CIF commissioners are scheduled to meet with Nocetti and his staff via teleconference June 9-11, when possible solutions to resume sports activity amid coronavirus restrictions will be laid out.
Even then, all CIF decision-makers, along with their athletes and coaches, will be at the mercy of the virus and guidelines laid forth by what state government, education and public health officials deem safe.
We asked him about the various summer rules in place throughout the state and nation, if the fall season might be in peril and if new transfer guidelines might take effect.
MaxPreps: We're hearing a lot of variation around the state when teams can engage in summer activities. Who actually decides that or when high school sports resume, if at all?
Nocetti: Right now, during the summer period, activities are decided by each local school or school district following the guidance of their local counties. We are currently working with our section commissioners to develop a variety of contingency plans. Once we have a better idea of when and how schools will return to in the fall, we can work to put the best plan into action.
So who decides that exactly, the CIF State office or the sections? How do they work together?
The section(s) and state office are in constant communication, especially in a fluid situation such as this. This past spring was an example when we announced in conjunction with our sections the cancellation of championship events at the section, regional and state levels. While the schools determine their non-league and league schedules, we believe that they will look to their section and the state office for guidance.
Seems complicated with different county rules and updates.
As far as now and re-opening the state, some areas of California can re-open sooner than others. We're seeing a lot of variation. As we get closer to fall, we will continue to monitor what can be done at both the local, section and state levels. We will engage in those conversations with our section offices, who will in turn do the same with their member schools/school districts.
What is your reaction when you see other states starting back to summer conditioning already or less strict measures?
I think that's encouraging as it gives hope to everyone. But we have to keep in mind that this varies from state to state. Certainly we're paying attention to what they are doing, but our undivided attention is paid to the information and guidance provided by the governor's office, the California Department of Education and state and local public health departments.
Is there a chance fall sports could be moved to another time of the 2020-21 school year?
Clearly, we're not removing any discussion from the table. We'll be discussing all options possible at this time. As I mentioned earlier, we will be able to narrow our focus once we have a better idea of when and how schools will return this fall.
If sections are not aligned or have different rules and mandates, how will that affect the CIF championships?
The goal is to remain in alignment, but at the same time, we've never faced a national pandemic before. If you remember back a couple years ago, when the wildfires struck the state, and some sections couldn't finish their championships, we tried to be on the same page. We pushed the games back a week. All were able to get their championships played except for a few in the North Coast Section, which gave its teams the option to play for a section or (flip a coin) to advance to the regional championships. Again, once we know more about the calendar for schools to return, we will have a better idea of how we can align the seasons statewide.
How late could the CIF football championships be moved back?
I really don't want to even make the assumption that we won't play them on time but we have discussed many options. Fall sports are obviously scheduled to be completed by the winter break but this is something we have never faced. In fairness to our member schools and student-athletes, we need to keep all options on the table and will know more once we have a better idea of when sports can return.
With so many families in transit due to COVID-19, will there be new transfer rules for 2020-21?
We have addressed many questions and concerns related to this and will certainly discuss with our section commissioners the policies concerning transfers.
Any particular inquiry that has surfaced more than others?
We recognize COVID-19 has put a huge financial strain on many families and have engaged in discussions with our section commissioners about a possible financial hardship waiver.