The Ohio High School Athletic Association said Wednesday it is going to enforce COVID-19 safety regulations detailed in an Ohio Department of Health order on Wednesday, while the ODH offered clarity on Wednesday as to what sports are prohibited from facing multiple opponents in a 24-hour time period.
The ODH order on Wednesday stated each school or facility hosting a sporting event must designate in writing a person to act as a compliance officer. That officer must ensure safety ODH-mandated guidelines — including physical distancing, proper sanitation practices and mask policies — are being adhered to.
The OHSAA is taking it a step further for its member schools with an inspector’s program.
The association said in a memo sent to members on Wednesday it will be sending inspectors to games and meets throughout the state this fall to ensure ODH regulations are being followed. Violators will be subject to OHSAA-imposed penalties including fines, forfeiture of games and postseason bans.
“Designated individuals will be attending contests throughout the state,” the memo, which was written by interim executive director Bob Goldring, said. “These inspectors will be asked to make contact with a school’s ‘compliance officer’ …prior to the contest, they will be provided an official OHSAA pass to enter your contest and they will work with schools to ensure mandates are being followed.
“The purpose of this program is educational in nature …we want your student-athletes to be able to continue to compete and, in order for that to continue, we all need to do our part to help stop anyone from contracting and/or spreading COVID-19.”
The inspectors will be filing reports with the OHSAA, and depending on the severity of the violations, the OHSAA could issue penalties.
In addition, the OHSAA will be developing a document school administrators and the public can use to file complaints if concerns over following mandates are discovered. The memo stated copies of these forms and further details on the inspector’s program will be released in the near future.
No multiple-team events for volleyball allowed
Buried in Wednesday’s ODH order was a provision that prevents teams from playing multiple opponents in a 24-hour period. It was designed to prevent multiple-team events, which the order says carry higher risks of COVID-19 transmission.
There was initial confusion expressed by school administrators on social media about the provision, which would have wiped out many golf and tennis multiple-team events after such meets had previously taken place.
The ODH clarified in a document released later Wednesday that golf, tennis and cross country are not subject to the provision; however, all other fall sports are.
That will prevent volleyball squads from participating in multiple-team tournaments, which are normally popular Saturday events during the season.
The provision wipes out the Coldwater Spikeoff, which was set for Saturday. The Cavaliers normally hold the annual tournament every season on the first weekend after play is allowed to begin. Fort Loramie and Versailles were scheduled to participate in this year’s event.
Clarification on how many athletes can dress
The OHSAA also clarified its regulation on how many athletes can dress during games.
The association announced Tuesday only 60 players can dress for football games, 22 players can dress for soccer games and 15 players can dress for volleyball games.
“For schools that have more players on their rosters than the maximum number permitted to be dressed, they are permitted to consider having these student-athletes wear jerseys and stand on the sidelines or sit in the grandstands,” Goldring wrote in Wednesday’s memo.
“However, all of these additional players — just like those dressed in game uniforms and equipment — must wear facial coverings and must be socially distanced. It is recommended that home teams NOT (sic) have these additional players enter locker rooms and that schools NOT (sic) travel more than the maximum number of players dressing for contests to road games.
OHSAA provides basketball update
The OHSAA also provided an update for basketball squads in Wednesday’s memo. Those teams may continue offseason practices throughout August.
The association said basketball teams may participate in competitions against other squads through the end of the month. The sport previously hadn’t been allowed by the OHSAA to do so, due to the state government having labeled basketball a contact sport and prohibited games from being played.
The OHSAA reminded schools in the memo COVID-19 safety mandates must be followed.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.