Executive Staff Responds to Expanded Contact Days Questions

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Executive Staff Responds to Expanded Contact Days Questions

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Executive Staff Responds to Expanded Contact Days Questions

Updated Thursday, June 4, 2020 - 8:45 a.m.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Board of Control voted to cancel 2020 spring sports regular-season competitions and the Tournament Series and extended unrestricted summertime coaching contact for spring sports at its April meeting Tuesday.

The Board also supported allowing individual, virtual spring sports coaching to continue until the final day of the 2020 season, which is identified as the final day of the 2020 State Tournament for the respective spring sports.

The extension of the unrestricted summertime coaching contact opportunities apply to spring sports only. This action will permit school teams that include the current year’s seniors to assemble and conduct practices and competitions for up to 30 days–provided restrictions on assembling in groups are removed–until the start of a student-athlete’s fall sport season or until the start of school for students not participating in a fall school sport. The extension of the summertime coaching contact is only available to students who are currently enrolled in ninth through 12th grades during the 2020 spring seasons.

All sports’ acclimatization regulations remain unchanged prior to the first competition as does the pitch count during the 30-day window. In addition, a day of rest after six consecutive contact days remains unchanged, and all traditional nonschool participation can be conducted simultaneously during the summertime, provided restrictions on assembling in groups are removed. Furthermore, if schools engage in competitions, the required number of WIAA licensed officials also remains unchanged.

All spring sports competitions scheduled during the expansion of unrestricted summertime provisions will require approval from district administrators of all competing schools. In addition, spring sports teams assembling without the current year’s seniors participating will remain limited to five days of unrestricted summertime contact, which is the same as fall and winter sports.

The state’s directive to cancel all extracurricular activities prohibits all school or coach involvement with training, practices, scrimmages and contests until, at the earliest July 1, unless restrictions are removed prior to that time.  Therefore, coaches may not bring students together or encourage students to assemble for extracurricular purposes, which includes competitions, practices and all instructional and training until the restrictions on assembling in groups are removed.

All coaches are encouraged to continue to connect with their student-athletes with virtual organizational team meetings and team building exercises by video or messaging as approved by school administration to provide support for athletes. Coaches can provide general information to their athletes virtually, who may voluntarily review the suggestions. However, coaches are prohibited from mandating or instructing athletes out of season during this period.

Fall and winter sports coaches’ contact may begin July 1–provided restrictions on assembling in groups are removed­–and will follow the existing prescribed summertime dates and unrestricted contact regulations with a maximum of five days of contact.

Following the Board of Control meeting on April 21, here is a list of frequently asked questions with responses from the executive staff.


30-Day Unrestricted Contact Q & A

Q:  Who is allowed to participate in the 30 days of contact?
Students who are currently enrolled in grades 9-12 during the 2020 spring season.

Q: What if our seniors do not want to play? Can we still use the 30 days?
Yes.  However, you must document and record that seniors were asked to play and declined. The 30-day window of contact for spring sports only was developed to offer all 2019-20 spring athletes the opportunity to have closure to their season.

Q:  Can incoming ninth graders (currently eighth graders) be involved with practices/competitions or virtual workouts?
  No, the extended period is only for those students currently enrolled in ninth through 12 grades during the 2020 spring season.

Q:  Is the 30 days of contact for grades 9-12  and then five additional for incoming 9-12 graders? We do not have any current seniors on our team. Would that mean 35 days of contact?
  The 30-day extension is for continuation of the spring season. The five days of unrestricted school coaching contact would be separate for all sports using the existing parameters and rules. For example, a baseball coach could have a spring practice on July 17 and have an unrestricted gathering that day as well, provided the restrictions on assembling allow it.

Q:  Are the 30 days required to be consecutive?

Q:  Do the 30 days have to stop when fall sports start? Aug. 3 for football, Aug. 17 for volleyball, etc.?
  No, not necessarily, but if a student is a fall sport athlete, they must discontinue their school-based unrestricted spring (summer) contact when their fall sport season practices begin and at the first day of school for students not participating in fall sports.

Q: Will junior varsity competitions also be allowed during the extended unrestricted 30-day period?

Q:  Are schools required to use WIAA licensed officials for the competitions that happen during this 30-day window?
Yes. As well as the required number of licensed officials in competition.

Q:  Can high school teams play out-of-state and club teams during the 30 days?
  Yes, if approved by district administrators of all competing schools.

Q:  Can we play on Sundays?
  This is a local decision (this extended opportunity still requires one day of rest following six consecutive days of practice and/or competition).  

Q:  Can schools give out equipment for kids to use, such hitting tees and bats to kids who do not have them at home? 
A:   Implements may be provided.  Protective equipment may not be provided until the last day of school.

Q:  Does this period allow for actual competitions and not just scrimmages; so uniforms and scoreboards can be used?
Yes, if approved by all competition schools district administrators.

Q:  Are all competitions considered "friendlies" and do not count as far as WIAA records are concerned?
The WIAA does not maintain regular-season statistical records; therefore, how statistics or records are archived would be a local administration determination.

Q:  Do athletes need to have a valid physical to participate in the extended unrestricted summertime contact period?
  If student-athletes have a physical from the spring season, it would count for this extended period of unrestricted coaching contact.

Q:  Do we still have to abide by the practice rules that are in place during a regular season?
Yes, including the requirement of day of rest after six consecutive contact days–and minimum number of practice days prior to competing.

Q:  Does sports acclimatization still apply, as well as the pitch count, for baseball?
All sports’ acclimatization regulations remain unchanged prior to the first competition as does the pitch count during the 30-day window.  

Q:  Can acclimatization occur virtually?
A:  Acclimatization is used to get physically in condition.  It cannot be done virtually if the 30 days are being used, it must be done with the beginning of that period.

Q:  If we do advance to Phase 2 of the governor's recovery plan by July 1, and 50 people can gather with social distancing restrictions, how will we keep batter, catcher and umpire six feet apart at home plate? Will it be up to schools to have security (i.e. police) to remove the 51st person, and anyone above the 50-person threshold, from the park/field when we already have capped the threshold with teams, coaches and umpires?
The governor’s order will determine the rules for baseball and softball, and oversight for compliance will be under local control.

Q:  According to the Badger Bounce Back plan, when we are in Phase 1 (whenever that is), there is a 10 person maximum on gatherings. In Phase 2 (whenever that is), there is a 50 person maximum. Will this be applied and required to play with no spectators?
The governor’s order will determine when gatherings may commence and who may attend.

Q:  Could member schools participate as a school team in a virtual track & field meet?
A:  No, school teams cannot compete in a virtual meet. In accordance with the governor’s orders – no extra-curricular activities allowed through the end of the school year. Coaches, at this time, are only allowed to hold virtual workouts with their team. Individual athletes are allowed to participate in virtual track & field meets as one of their two non-school events, with prior permission from their school administration, but they may not represent their school. If, at some point, a school deems that the spring track & field season has ended, then the limitations on non-school events are lifted for the individual athletes. Once the school season has ended, the athlete may compete, independently, in as many virtual meets as they would like.

Q:  Softball is required to have seven practices for acclimatization before competition. If there was a day that only two girls could attend the practice, would that still count towards our program's seven days?
All existing acclimatization protocol for the respective sports remain unchanged. The minimum days is a team requirement, while desireable for each participant to satisfy this requirement, schools will determine when students may begin competition. 

Q: Can school districts pay for buses, umpires and coaches during the 30-day expanded unrestricted summertime contact?
 Yes. School funds and resources may be used for the 30 days of spring extension and for the five unrestricted school coaching contact days for fall and sports once allowed by executive order.

Q:  How does this affect athletes' participation in nonschool sports during the summer?
All traditional nonschool participation can be conducted simultaneously during the 30 days of unrestricted contact during the summertime, provided restrictions on assembling in groups are removed.

Q:  Is there any chance the lettering decision for this spring would be a statewide decision by the WIAA, so there is an even playing field?
No, this is a local determination. You may locally decide whether you award a letter during the 30-day extension. Your administration can determine what factors will be considered in order to letter. Remember, incentives may not be used for out-of-season participation, which is not included in the 30-day extension. The 30 unrestricted contact dates are an extension of the spring season and must meet the requirements that it is only offered to your students who participated on your spring teams.  

Q:  What is allowable coaching contact after the end of the scheduled State Tournament to July 1? Is that window now out of season and rules apply up until our last day of school? Do normal out-of-season coaching rules apply from our last day of school until July 1?
There is no unrestricted school coaching contact from the end of the spring State Tournaments until at least July 1 or when the governor’s order allows it.

Q:  Can virtual sport specific unrestricted summer contact begin following the last day of school? How is last day of school determined?
Spring sports may continue coaching contact until the end of their season, which is when the State Tournament would have ended in each respective sport. However, unrestricted school coaching contact is prohibited by the state’s Executive Order until at least July 1 and only after restrictions on gathering in groups are removed.

Q:  Do eligibility rules apply during this 30-day-contact window (such as grading, registration, physicals, etc)?
All eligibility rules apply and have not changed.  This is an extension of the spring season only.

Q: If I as a high school coach also coach a club softball team that includes girls on our school team after June 4, when our school year concludes, on a public diamond with no affiliation with the school during the month of June.  Can I coach the 30 days of unrestricted days in July if our school schedules games in the extended 30 days of July?
A:  All coaches have unrestricted school coaching contact days from July 1 (unless changed) to July 31 (July 25 for FB). Coaches may use their nonschool unlimited coaching contact from the last scheduled day of school to the first day of school.  It would not affect unrestricted school coaching contact. Best to check with your school to be sure they are ok with the unlimited contact.

Q: Can school head coaches run a virtual contact day once our last school day has passed?
A:  Coaching contact days cannot begin until July 1. If they want to use one of their five days virtually during June, it would be allowed on or after your last day of school. They cannot encourage the athletes to gather.  It counts against the five unrestricted school coaching contact days in July.


Eligibility:  30-Day Unrestricted Contact Q & A

Q: With spring sports now canceled this year, will student-athletes receive an additional year of eligibility?
A: No. A student must complete eligibility in the four consecutive years starting with Grade 9 and the three consecutive years starting with grade 10.

Q:  Could a student, who will not turn 18 yet, apply for a fourth season of eligibility in a year beyond the four consecutive years starting with ninth grade due to the extenuating circumstances?
A:  At this time, a ninth or 10th consecutive semester will not be extended due to the Coronavirus situation.

Q:  Would athletes ineligible for a spring sports because of a code of conduct violation be counted in the 30 contact days towards the suspension?
  If the code suspension is served by missing your spring school sanctioned athletic contest, it would consider the suspension as served. Therefore, a spring athlete missing a scheduled spring contest–or a code-prescribed percentage of contests in a season–during the 30 days, it would count as the suspension served. If you are not running the contest through your athletic program, the contest would not count.

Q:  For winter and fall sports has anything changed in regards to summer contact?
A:  Yes. The dates for the allowed five summer unrestricted contact days will not begin until the state’s restrictions on assembling in groups are removed and practices are allowed to occur. At that time, the WIAA will issue a statement, signifying that schools may begin their unrestricted summer contact days.

Q:  When does the unrestricted coaches contact period end for fall and winter sports?
At this time, there has been no change in coaching contact for fall and winter sports.  It ends July 31 for all sports except football, which is July 25.

Q:  Would athletes ineligible for spring sports because of the transfer rule be allowed to participate in the 30 contact days?
 No. All eligibility rules still apply for school sports.  If they were restricted in the spring, it would still apply.

Q:  Can our high school coaches include current eighth graders in their virtual workouts?
 Yes, varsity and JV can work with 8th graders and below until the first day of school, but not during the Executive Order.

Q:  Would athletes academically ineligible for spring sports be allowed to participate in the 30 contact days?
A:  No. The eligibility rules remain the same.  If students have failing grades in the fall, the rule would apply. For the 30 days, the rule that would apply is the “21 calendar days from the first contest” that we use for fall sports if your school’s athletic program is, in fact, using the 30-day spring extension.

Q:  With high school softball season canceled, are the girls allowed to train with their personal or club coach?
A:  Athletes may work with personal trainers and club coaches, attend camps, and attend clinics at any time.

Q: Has there been any change to any of the WIAA deadlines (i.e. Co-op team)?
A:  The co-op deadlines and other rules remain in effect.   

Q: Can you please clarify for me whether or not virtual contact between coaches and athletes counts as a "normal" contact day or not?
A:  Only spring coaches who are still in season may provide individual virtual workouts to spring sport athletes. The executive order is still in effect for k-12 schools and private schools.  Coaches may not use their five unrestricted school coaching contact days until July 31 or when the order is lifted.  At that time, coaches would be able to use their five unrestricted school coaching contact days whether physically or virtually to provide coaching instruction.

Q:   Are club softball teams permitted to practice before the June 30th date? 
A: With non-school groups such as high-school aged club teams, American Legion baseball teams, AAU basketball teams – at this time – the organization would have to follow whatever their local health city and/or departments are providing as restrictions until the state makes new rules. I would recommend that you make sure it is not a school team practicing with their school coach. WIAA rules permit all coaches except football to have unlimited non-school coaching contact with their athletes from the last day of school to the first day of school without school resources.  WIAA interpretations provide that booster clubs would be considered non-school; however, you may want to verify with the DPI and/or the health department if they consider a booster club as an extension of the school or as a separate entity.

Q: If student-athletes get a physical April 1st or later it was good for the remainder of the year and the following year.  Then an alternate card is turned in for the year after that.  This makes it sound like physicals are good for two years.  I take it this means if they previously had a physical on file within two years, they do not need to get one for the fall season.  They just need to complete the physical examination extension form.  Is that correct?
A: Nothing has changed in regard to the April 1st deadline. Physicals technically are good for two years if you include the alternate year card. If the student-athlete needed a physical for this year because last year they had an alternate card covering (2019-20) and cannot get an appointment before the school year begins due to the Coronavirus, they can receive an extension until they get the next physical within this school year. If they had a physical last school year (2019-20) and use an alternate year card in the upcoming school year, (2020-21) they don’t need an extension.

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