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GHSA president opposes canceling sports; key board meeting Monday

ajc.com

One day ahead of a specially called board meeting, Georgia High School Association president Glenn White said Sunday he expects clear direction for fall sports by week’s end and strongly opposes calling them off.

At White’s request, the GHSA’s board of trustees will meet with GHSA executive director Robin Hines at 1 p.m. Monday in Thomaston to discuss proposals that will include staying on schedule, which would mean mandatory football practices beginning July 27, or delaying the fall sports seasons, which South Carolina and North Carolina did last week.

‘‘Do people have proposals? My goodness, yes, all kinds of proposals,‘’ White said. “Mine is this: I’m OK with any proposal as long as it’s not canceling the seasons. I’m adamantly against canceling athletics, and I mean all the things we do in the fall – softball, cheerleading, cross country, volleyball. I want all these things for our students. I want to give them some normal routine and something to focus on besides COVID-19.‘'

The board of 13 trustees is not expected to vote on a proposal, although it could. White said the trustees might come away with a proposed starting date, but he expects more decisive decisions after Hines meets with his sports medicine advisory committee Wednesday.

“I called this meeting for us to discuss options for starting athletics in the fall, and that’s what we’ll be talking about,‘' White said. “We are considering what other states have done. Some have delayed seasons. We’ll talk about it from the board of trustees perspective and also include the GHSA office as they’re gathering information to share with us.‘'

The trustees have ultimately authority but generally follow Hines’ guidance as executive director. It was Hines who stopped spring sports in March and granted permission to start summer workouts in June. ‘‘Dr. Hines has done a great job,‘’ White said. “He’s been on top of this.‘'

Hines has been consistent with his intent to remain on schedule. The first football games remain scheduled for the week of Aug. 21. Contests in other sports can begin sooner.

But some trustees will push for a delay as many did in May, when Hines wanted to start summer conditioning June 8. Hines was persuaded by trustees from larger school districts to start June 15.

With so much at stake, the lead up to this trustees meeting has been more nerve-wracking than perhaps any other in years. To many high school sports fans, coaches and athletes, it’s like seeing the doctor the latest diagnosis.

Board member Steven Craft, also the athletic director for Fulton County Schools, posted reassurance Saturday on Twitter.

‘‘Please understand that Monday’s meeting will be a discussion on how best to move forward with athletics,‘’ he wrote. ‘‘There will not be any votes to cancel or approve modified schedules. We understand that everyone is nervous about the fall. The BOT and the state office wants to play!‘'

White, director of student services at Floyd County Schools, said he’s been moved by the overwhelming number of emails, texts and calls he’s received from those wanting to know where fall sports are headed.

‘‘I’ve known for years how important sports are in this state, but gosh have I gotten a reminder how important,‘’ White said. ‘‘It’s amazing how many coaches and administrators and students have an interest in that. I’ve always tried to return every call and text that I receive the same day, but that’s been hard lately. This is truly an unprecedented, unique situation, and I’ve been doing this almost 40 years. I’ve never seen anything like it.‘'

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