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Prep Notebook: IHSA, local schools continue waiting game on fall sports
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Prep Notebook: IHSA, local schools continue waiting game on fall sports

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IHSA 4A Championship: Murphysboro Red Devils at Richmond-Burton Rockets

Murphysboro head football coach Gary Carter walks out on the field with his team on Nov. 29 before the IHSA Class 4A State Football Championship at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb.

Last month, when the IHSA made the painful but correct decision to cancel the spring sports season, athletic directors like Marion’s Ryan Goodisky and Carbondale’s Mark Albertini mentioned the possibility that fall sports events might either have limited or zero attendance.

IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said Monday that everything remains on the table for the fall. That includes starting football, volleyball, cross country, girls tennis and boys soccer on time, or delaying the seasons. Canceling them isn’t out of possibility’s realm, either.

The ultimate arbiter of whether schools start in the fall — and whether football teams block and tackle — is Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Anderson and the IHSA are basically beholden to Pritzker’s judgment on whether the state is considered safe enough to open schools by mid- or late August.

“A lot of it has to do with the recommendations, and we’re not going to go against them,” Anderson said. “A lot of unknowns remain, and it’s hard to project what might happen. We’re starting to put ideas together, monitoring information from the state.”

In Pritzker’s five-phase plan under which the state could eventually re-open, the state is presently in Phase 2 until at least May 30. It will need to reach Phase 4 for schools to re-open and Phase 5 to accommodate large gatherings.

Logically, if Illinois can hit Phase 4 by July (or even August), your favorite football or volleyball team might be able to open the season on time. But you might not be able to watch it in person, depending on Pritzker’s interpretation of the state’s ability to safely host those events.

At this point, Anderson is willing to settle for games with limited crowds or no fans if necessary.

“For the betterment of our kids, we need to get them back to what they enjoy doing,” he said. “Remember, before we canceled the 1A/2A basketball championships, we were going to play games with a limited crowd.”

STATE TOURNAMENT BIDS: While it waits to see what will happen with fall sports, the IHSA continues the business of, well, business.

Its bid process for the next five softball tournaments is underway until May 22. The tournament has been a fixture at EastSide Centre in East Peoria, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if it moved across town to the Louisville Slugger Complex, where Bradley plays its home games.

The main field there seats 1,300 and boasts synthetic turf. The facility hosted the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament last May.

Anderson said that discussion as to a potential new site for the state basketball tournaments has been tabled until next month. The reason is that he would like for the Board of Directors to hold a face-to-face meeting if possible.

Also, the state golf tournaments are headed back to Bloomington (boys) and Decatur (girls). No bids were received from Southern Illinois, even though some golf coaches in the area tried to make a case for one, touting warmer weather and suitable facilities.

“We were just looking to renew if our partners were willing,” Anderson said. “We have great relationships with those communities.”

MILLER MOVES ON: Former Harrisburg girls basketball star Lotte Miller will continue her career at Governors State University, 30 miles south of Chicago in University Park.

Miller averaged 3.2 points and 2.7 assists in nearly 20 minutes a game, drawing six starts in 30 games last year at Parkland College in Champaign. Parkland posted a 24-7 record this year after going 16-14 last season.

Governors State, an NAIA school, posted a 12-19 record last year.

SCHOLAR-ATHLETES: The Southern Illinoisan is taking nominations from schools in its coverage area for the top male and female student-athletes. Candidates must have excelled on the playing field and in the classroom while serving their community as well.

Schools can nominate athletes until May 29. Nominations must be sent to bucky.dent@thesouthern.com.

Last year’s winners were Karsyn Davis (Harrisburg) and Jack Butler (Carbondale).

Southern Illinois schools maintain graduation pomp in unusual circumstances

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