COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio High School Athletic Association said Thursday afternoon it is working to determine state tournament venues for boys and girls basketball, wrestling and ice hockey in March.
The OHSAA board of directors met Thursday morning to receive an update from OHSAA staff regarding the winter sports tournaments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The previously established sectional tournament draw meeting dates will stay the same, along with the dates of the state tournaments.
The board also approved the 2021 football regulations, which include adjustments due to the regular season beginning a week earlier so that the playoffs can be expanded.
The board of directors approved a plan in May 2020 to expand the playoffs to 12 regional qualifiers for the 2021 season.
Schools may fulfill two of the required five acclimatization days in July in advance of official practice beginning on Sunday, Aug. 1.
Two scrimmages will be permitted between Aug. 6-14. Either or both of the scrimmages may be conducted as Jamboree games.
The first Friday of the regular season is Aug. 20 and the regular season will conclude on Oct. 23, followed by six weeks of playoffs instead of five weeks.
Here are the winter sports updates:
Swimming and diving
The state tournament will remain at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton Feb. 24-27, but the format will be adjusted to remove preliminary sessions in swimming and complete each division in one day (timed finals) and allow a minimal number of people on the pool deck.
The Division II girls swimming and diving finals will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 24, followed by Division II boys on Thursday, Feb. 25, Division I girls on Friday, Feb. 26 and Division I boys on Saturday, Feb. 27.
Two spectators will be permitted for each diving state qualifier, while only one spectator will be permitted for each swimming state qualifier.
The state tournament will remain at Hilliard Bradley High School March 5-6, but the format and some traditional aspects of the state tournament will be adjusted, along with reduced number of spectators.
The state tournaments will remain at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl Feb. 26-27 (Division II) and March 5-6 (Division I).
The number of bowlers on qualifying teams will be reduced from eight to six bowlers per the COVID-19 guidelines established in the fall. The number of spectators permitted is still to be determined.
The state tournament venue is to be determined, as it is not yet known if Nationwide Arena will be able to host the event. Spectator limitations are to be determined.
The state tournament will not be held at the Schottenstein Center, which is not able to host the event this year.
The OHSAA is seeking three high schools, preferably in Central Ohio due to travel considerations, to each host a division.
The district and state tournaments will include split sessions, with seven weight classes competing at a time, followed by a break and then the other seven weight classes. Spectator limitations are to be determined.
The regional and state tournament sites are all to be determined. It is not yet known which of the previously announced sites will permit events to be held at their venue, or which will allow spectators.
The OHSAA intends to use neutral sites for the regional tournaments.
The girls basketball state tournament is supposed to be held at the University of Dayton Arena for the first season of a three-year contract.
The boys basketball state tournament is supposed to be held at St. John Arena in Columbus.
- The board tabled a proposal from the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCCC) to expand the track and field tournament to four divisions. The OHSAA said its focus is to conduct the 2021 season and tournament series, as a number of issues still need to be discussed regarding a potential expansion to four divisions. The site of the 2021 state tournament is still to be determined.
- Per OHSAA Constitution Article 6-1-9 (temporary suspension of strict compliance due to the COVID-19 pandemic), the board ratified a modification to waive the OHSAA scholarship bylaw for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year and the start of the 2021-22 school year, meaning all student-athletes are eligible insofar as OHSAA academic standards are concerned. Individual schools are permitted to maintain their own minimum academic standards for student-athletes.
- The board approved recommendations for the 2021 OHSAA Naismith Award for Meritorious Service to Talawanda girls basketball coach Mary Jo Huismann from the Southwest District and the late Dave Young from the Southeast District.
The OHSAA has 815 member high schools and 760 seventh- to eighth-grade schools in the association for this upcoming 2020-21 school year.
The OHSAA represents over 350,000 students competing in 26 sanctioned sports – 13 for boys and 13 for girls.