AIA allows more fans to attend home games


The Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board voted Tuesday, Feb. 16, to allow more fans to attend winter season home games. However, each district must first check with its local health officials to determine the amount of fans that can attend games.

“Even though the (Covid-19) numbers are going down, they are still high (compared) to the beginning of the fall season,” AIA Executive Director David Hines said. “So we are hoping people are very reasonable to allow a few more people in their stands. But to open up completely would not be a good choice and not helpful to the community or the state of Arizona.”

During Tuesday’s monthly meeting, the board also voted to continue the mask mandate through the winter season, including the playoffs. On or about March 1, the board will discuss if the mandate will continue when spring sports teams start practice.

Football teams to remain in same conferences

The board voted to accept two AIA Football Reclassification Committee recommendations that were made earlier this month.

First, for the 2021-22 school year, football teams will remain in the same conferences they participated in during the 2020-21 school year. Schools can appeal their conference placement and will have five business days to do so after the minutes of Tuesday’s board meeting are posted.

The 2021-22 team conference placement can be found here: http://aiaonline.org/alignments/activities/football.

The meeting’s minutes will be posted here: http://aiaonline.org/about/meetings-agendas/executive/). Appeals will be heard by conference leaders on Feb. 25. If an appeal is denied, schools will have five business days to appeal to the AIA Executive Board. The board will hear those appeals on March 15.

The second recommendation the AIA board accepted was the start and end dates for the 2021-22 football seasons.

Conference 1A will continue to follow its traditional schedule, per AIA bylaws.

Conferences 2A and 3A will delay the start of their seasons by a week and begin practicing on Aug. 2, play 10 regular season games over a 10-week period and start their playoffs on Nov. 5. Playoffs will end on Nov. 26 or 27.

Conferences 4A, 5A and 6A requested a two-week delay to start the season. The conference members will begin practicing on Aug. 9 and play a 10-week schedule during an 11-week period (Aug. 27-Nov. 12). Their playoffs will start on Nov. 17 and conclude on Dec. 10 or 11.

More news from Tuesday’s board meeting

Spring sports student-athletes who transferred prior to Feb. 8 will be allowed to compete immediately with their spring teams. If a student-athlete transferred after Feb. 8, schools will have to file a hardship appeal for them to play.

Based on the recommendation by 1A-6A Conference leaders, the board voted not to allow spring team sports to compete in regular season tournaments or invitationals. This will allow teams to play their entire regular season schedules. Spring sports teams can start practicing on March 1 and competing on March 12, which was moved up from March 15 as the original target date for the first permissible day to start competition. There might be some limited possibilities with sports modifications for spring golf, tennis and track teams to compete in invites.

Per a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommendation, eight questions will be added to the pre-participation physical forms of student-athletes during the 2021-22 school year.

Queen Creek Athletic Director Renee Regoli will replace Marcus Williams, who was recently hired by Arizona State University, on the AIA Executive Board. She will serve as the member representing the Arizona Interscholastic Athletic Administrator’s Association (AIAAA).

The annual Legislative Council meeting will be held March 5 at 9 a.m., at Xavier College Prep High School. The meeting can be watched online on AZPreps365’s YouTube channel.

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