Neidig discusses IHSAA's coronavirus plan
Early last week, incoming IHSAA commissioner Paul Neidig joined the Inside Indiana Business program via a Zoom call and discussed the Athletic Association’s plan to return to high school sports in the fall.
He laid out the three-phase plan they’ve issued, beginning on July 6, stating:
“We’ve been able to work collaboratively with the Department of Education and, obviously, with the Governor’s office and entities in charge of opening back up our state. The plan is, we’ll return to our school-based facilities on July 6. Our coaches can get access to our student-athletes. They can, we’ll call it knocking the dust off. There’s a two-week acclimation period we call Phase 1 where coaches can work with their kids, start lifting weights again, conditioning, getting the tools of trade back out – the balls and the pads.
“After that, we move into Phase 2. Phase 2 will be a little bit more of a return to normal summer when we can start some informal competitions. Obviously, it’s with essential personnel only during Phase 2.
“And that takes us to Phase 3. And Phase 3 is going to be the return to high school sports as we know it and on the same timeline as we’ve always had. Our hope is, if we continue on this path and something doesn’t change, we’re going to return to the football field on Friday nights this fall, just like we have every other year. And soccer and tennis and golf or what have you, we’re going to start competing again and we’re going to start giving our kids a platform to learn and show what they do.”
Asked about his confidence level in the return to sports in just a couple of weeks, Neidig said he was optimistic it would start on time.
“I think I’m very confident in that. But I will also say we need to remain nimble. This COVID is a new path for us,” he said. “We don’t know all of the ins and outs of it yet, but I’m confident we’re going to return to the field in the fall.”
Replacing former IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox, Neidig was also asked what his vision was for Indiana’s 160,000 student-athletes moving forward.
“My vision is really contained in what I’m concerned about moving forward. We’re an education-based entity. If education doesn’t happen, we don’t have sports. We need to keep that first and foremost,” Neidig said. “My guiding principle, my decision making, the thing I always want to be responsible to is the last kid that makes a team. The one percent, the great athletes, they have a lot of opportunities, but I really want to be focused on protecting the experience for all kids who make a team because this is an educational setting. If we’re not teaching, we’re probably not doing the service to kids. So, that’s my primary focus.”
Phase 1 is set to begin July 6 and last through July 19 with Phase 2 then beginning on July 20 and ending on August 14. Phase 3 will get underway August 15 and continue throughout the remainder of the fall sports season.