Central Board approves return to play ‘Best Practices’ for spring sports and modifications to winter playoff formats


MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama High School Athletic Association Central Board of Control approved the AHSAA’s Return to Play ‘Best Practices’ recommended guidelines for spring sports Wednesday and also approved Winter Sports Championship health and safety modifications due to COVID restrictions at its annual winter meeting at the AHSAA Office.

The Spring Sports ‘Return to Play ‘Best Practices’ follow the most recent Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and AHSAA Medical Advisory Board recommendations for sports such as boys’ and girls’ tennis, soccer, outdoor track, golf, baseball and  softball. The link for the Spring Sports Return to Play recommendations is:

The Winter Sports playoff modifications are necessary due to current health and safety regulations that restrict venue attendance to no more than 20% of capacity. As with Fall Sports Championships, GoFan’s digital ticketing plan will manage the ticket limitations at each venue and will require tickets to playoff events to be purchased digitally.

Among the Winter Sports championship play changes was establishing a second sub-regional round for the basketball playoffs at the site of one of the participating schools in lieu of playing regional semifinals at Region Tournament sites. The Region finals will be played at Regional sites.

The State Basketball Championships will begin Feb. 26 and will run through March 6. The BJCC Legacy Arena is undergoing renovations and will not be available in 2021. The State semifinals and finals will be played at one of two venues being used, Bill Harris Arena at the Birmingham CrossPlex and UAB’s Bartow Arena.

Indoor Track competition will still be a two-day event at the Birmingham CrossPlex, Feb. 5-6. However, the four divisions will complete their meets in one day over the two-day period and all events will run as finals.

The AHSAA State Wrestling Traditional Championships are moving to two weekends and at three sites and the Super Sectional Wrestling Meets are being eliminated. The sites will be Garrett Coliseum (Class 1A/4A) and Birmingham’s Bill Harris Arena (7A) on Feb. 12-13. The Class 5A/6A Championships will be at Huntsville’s Von Braun Center on Feb. 18-20.

The Wrestling Duals finals will be played Friday, Jan. 22 at Bill Harris Arena with the Class 7A finals at noon, Class 5A/6A finals at 3 p.m., and Class 1A/4A finals at 6 p.m.

Bowling Regional Tournaments were backed up a week and will be held at Vestavia Hills (North) and Spanish Fort (South), Thursday and Friday, Jan. 21-22. The AHSAA State Bowling Championships returns to Pelham’s Oak Mountain Lanes next week, Jan. 28-29. The format has changed, due to attendance restrictions. Each division will complete its championship in a one-day session.

More details and all modifications approved for playoffs for all winter sports can be found at the following link:

AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese praised the Central Board for its leadership and commitment providing member schools direction in facing the challenges ahead.

“The purpose of the ‘Return to Play Spring Sports’ document and the Winter Sports championship play modifications have always been to offer AHSAA member schools the best recommendations possible to provide more opportunities for student-athletes and schools to participate,” said Savarese.

Central Board president Van Phillips presided over his first board meeting. “I want to thank my fellow board members for having the confidence in me to lead this board,” he said. “I stand on the shoulders of so many who have come before me – especially Ervin Romine and Richard Robertson, who were the first two black individuals to serve as Central Board president. “This was a very important meeting as we move forward continuing to deal with the health and safety challenges our schools are facing. We dealt with a lot of concerns.”

New board member Brian Jett, the principal of Fort Payne High School who is replacing outgoing District 8 member Keith Bender, who retired in December, was sworn in at Wednesday’s meeting. Board member Larry Raines, representing the ALSDE, announced his plans to step down on April 1, and Terry Roller was introduced as the new ALSDE representative on the Central Board, beginning with the April meeting.

Savarese also introduced Ken Washington as the AHSAA Director of Officials. He was promoted from his role as assistant director upon outgoing Director of Officials Mark Jones who retired in December.

In other Board action Wednesday:

· Approved the 2020 Super 7 Audit

· Approved expenses for the 2021 State Basketball Tournament

· Approved the 2020 Region and State Volleyball Championships Financial Reports

· Approved the 2020 Cross Country and State Swimming Financial Reports

· Reviewed Football Playoff Comparison Financials

· Approved Families First Corona Virus Response Act (FFCRA) extension until March 31, 2021

· Heard a report from Knight/Eady

· Heard a report from AHSAA CFO Amy Gulledge

· Approved a motion instructing the AHSAA staff to explore the possibility of implementing the sport of Flag Football for females

· Discussed the possibility of District meetings being held virtually in 2021

· Reviewed legislative proposals submitted this month by member schools