CIAC follows governor’s lead, cancels spring sports season

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By Kevin Roberts, Republican-American

The final domino for spring high school sports in the country fell May 5 when Gov. Ned Lamont ordered schools to remain closed for the duration of the 2019-20 academic year.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference followed suit and canceled the spring sports season. The CIAC stated after its April 23 Board of Control meeting that if in-school learning didn’t restart, there would be no spring sports.

“It’s disappointing for student-athletes and it’s frustrating for coaches and administrators,” Naugatuck athletic director Gianni Perugini said. “However, I understand that the safety and well-being of student-athletes, staff and the community is what’s most important right now.”

Connecticut was the last state in the country to cancel high school spring sports, after being the first to call off winter postseason events in March. Decisions made outside the state didn’t affect the final ones made in the state.

“Honestly, not at all,” CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini said. “We have always been very confident in the opinion and direction from the advice that we get from our medical advisers, the Department of Health, (Education) Commissioner (Miguel) Cardona, and the governor’s office. We are always going to make the decision of what is best for our student-athletes in Connecticut.”

Being the first to cancel winter sports came from what was known about the novel coronavirus and its potential to spread quickly. As far as being the last state to cancel, Lungarini said “we just felt we wanted to give it as much time and as much information as possible before we closed any opportunities.”

Lungarini pointed out that winter sports had a full regular season plus conference tournaments. That didn’t happen at all in spring, but not for a lack of trying.

“The governor’s office, Commissioner Cardona and the CIAC wanted to give every opportunity we could to any potential experience for our students,” Lungarini said. “We didn’t rush to that decision, we exhausted every possible opportunity, and we always placed the health and safety of our student-athletes first. We waited as long as we could because our student-athletes and students in general deserved every opportunity to be exhausted.”

The Board of Control issued guidelines for summer contact and the resocialization of high school sports in the fall after its May 7 meeting.

The CIAC said virtual coaching will be allowed for spring sport coaches through May 31. Starting June 1, all coaches will be permitted to have virtual contact, which includes skill instruction and conditioning, until Aug. 17. Also, any incomplete grades will be considered a passing grade until the end of the first marking period in the fall when determining academic eligibility for fall sports.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.