Section III fall sports to start Sept. 21 after 58% to 42% vote among 104 school districts

EAST SYRACUSE, NY – Section III Athletics of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced today that fall sports will proceed as anticipated based on guidance from NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and NYSPHSAA officials.

Practices may begin for low and moderate risk fall sports on September 21, 2020 and higher risk fall sports may begin March 1, 2021. The decision was rendered by the Executive Committee early this morning. The committee’s decision is a result of reviewing feedback provided by member schools.

“We’ve received feedback this week from the majority of our 104 member schools. More specifically, 97 schools responded with 58% indicating they are ready to begin fall sports, and 42% requesting a delay of fall sports until after January 1, 2021,” said John Rathbun, Section III Executive Director. “We understand the
challenges many schools face and the difficult decisions superintendents, principals, and athletic administrators are being required to make to keep student-athletes, spectators, and sport officials safe. We continue to stay committed to providing support to our member schools and the student-athletes we serve.”

The plan, approved today by the Section III Executive Committee, emphasizes no fall sectional tournament competition. The following groups contributed to the development of the plan: Section III Executive Director & staff, Section III representative of the NYSPHSAA COVID-19 Task Force, League Presidents and Athletic Administrators, Sport Coordinators & Sport Committees, and Chief School Officer (CSO) committee members.

The following guiding principles grounded the decision-making process:
 Ensure the health and safety of all student-athletes
 Re-engage all student-athletes as soon as possible for their social, emotional and mental well-being
 Maximize participation across all sports and all student-athletes
 Keep competition as local as possible for as long as possible
 Maintain the ability to pivot to back-up plans when deemed necessary
 The fall of 2020 season there will be no sectional or NYSPHSAA regional or state completions (Fall Season I and Fall Season II)

“We understand and recognize the issues of equity and access this decision will create for schools and leagues within our section,” said Joseph DeBarbieri, Section III President. For a variety of legitimate and logistical reasons, some school districts may opt out of our fall sports season. In those cases, we respect the
individual district decision.”

The Section III Executive Committee and Executive Director will continue to monitor additional guidance from the New York State Governor’s Office, New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), New York State Education Department (NYSED), and New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) as circumstances change.