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IHSA invites Governor’s office, IDPH to next board meeting

The Illinois High School Association announced Wednesday that it has formally invited representatives from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health to its board meeting on Nov. 19.

Marian Catholic’s Ahron Ulis (1) drives toward the basket as Bloom’s Dante Maddox Jr. (21) defends, Chicago Heights, Illinois, March 10, 2020.
Marian Catholic’s Ahron Ulis (1) drives toward the basket as Bloom’s Dante Maddox Jr. (21) defends, Chicago Heights, Illinois, March 10, 2020.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

The Illinois High School Association announced Wednesday that it has formally invited representatives from Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health to its board meeting on Nov. 19.

“The board hopes to create a dialogue and build a more collaborative relationship with all the entities involved with developing sports policy in our state as everyone tries to navigate the myriad issues caused by the pandemic,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “The board’s decision to move forward with the IHSA basketball season was not meant to be adversarial. It was rooted in a desire to receive more direct communication and data from our state partners. They hope all the groups will see the mutual benefit of increased discourse and be represented at the meeting on Nov. 19.”

The invite comes after only eight of the

IHSA’s nearly 800 member schools announced they would participate in the

IHSA’s basketball season. Under the IHSA’s

COVID-19 revised calendar the basketball season is scheduled to run from mid-November until late February, in direct violation of Gov. Pritzker and the IDPH’s health guidelines. In late October Pritzker said basketball should be delayed until spring.

“We aren’t saying these sports won’t be played,” Pritzker said. “We are delaying the play of these sports. We are saying do training, do conditioning. Even [in] the high-risk sports, there are things they can do.”

According to multiple sources, insurers were unwilling to cover schools that went against the IDPH and Illinois State Board of Education guidelines and played basketball this winter.

“The board recognizes the difficult decisions they have placed on member schools regarding basketball,” Anderson said. “With a limited number of schools set to begin their season on Nov. 16, they believe it is prudent to adhere to IDPH guidance as they work with state officials to gain greater clarity on the metrics and mitigations required to conduct certain high school sports throughout the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.”

The IHSA also announced that schools that plan to begin basketball practice on Nov. 16 should adhere to the Level 1 mitigations from the IDPH’s guidelines until the Nov. 19 board meeting, citing “rising COVID-19 cases in the state.”