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Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted pledges to work with OHSAA as part of state's reopening plan

Posted at 3:31 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 19:56:37-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said Monday afternoon he spoke with the Ohio High School Athletic Association and looks forward to working with the education-based athletics governing body as the state starts to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Husted called OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass Monday morning, and communication will continue regarding school-sanctioned sports as part of the "Responsible Restart Ohio" plan.

"We're going to begin to coordinate with them on protocols for training in preparation for school-sanctioned sports," Husted said. "We know that this school year is nearing the end, but for the athletes out there, we know that training is a year-round process. We know that properly-trained, properly-fit folks -- it's an important thing not just to excel but to lower the risk of injuries and things like that."

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Last week, the restart plan did not address school-sanctioned sports but Husted clarified those details Monday afternoon.

"We appreciate very much the inclusiveness in plans to reopen sports in the state," Snodgrass told WCPO Monday afternoon. "This organization represents nearly 65,000 coaches and nearly 350,000 student-athletes and our input is vital. We look forward to helping open sports up responsibly."

The OHSAA sent a memo May 15 saying it will drop the no-contact period for six sports while it waits for further direction from the governor's office on other updates including school facilities.

"It was reiterated to us and the public that school facilities are not under the jurisdiction of the OHSAA," Snodgrass told WCPO Monday night.

"While we have communicated that on several occasions to our member schools, it created a bit of confusion since school buildings are closed by order and some athletic facilities are inside those buildings (weight rooms, gymnasiums, wrestling rooms, etcetera)."

Snodgrass said the declaration by DeWine on May 14 to open up and permit "low and non-contact sports” has caused many of the OHSAA member schools to reach out asking for guidance since many youth and travel baseball/softball programs utilize school facilities.

"Whether those facilities are available to those youth/travel programs is at the discretion of the schools and the local departments of health," Snodgrass said.

This weekend produced significant social media activity from high school athletic departments regarding the OHSAA's absence on the Ohio Department of Health's advisory group list updated May 14 which is in charge of developing statewide guidelines for sports leagues.

Husted said Monday he doesn't know the status of fall sports at this point, but he said the effort will be made to create safe training methods with the OHSAA for non-contact and contact sporting activities.

"We will work with the Ohio High School Athletic Association to develop protocols to make sure that we limit the ability to spread COVID-19," Husted said. "That's the goal of everything we do - to limit the spread to keep people safe."

Husted said coordinated plans with the OHSAA will be developed in the near future.

The OHSAA has 816 member high schools and approximately 760 seventh- to eighth-grade schools that belong to the association, which represents over 350,000 students competing in 26 sanctioned sports (13 for boys and 13 for girls).