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BPS spring sports postponed until further notice; Monsignor Martin cancels games through March 30; Federation Tournament off

With the college spring sports season being KO’d by the coronavirus outbreak, the only question remaining is would any Western New York high schools follow suit with their respective spring seasons?

Answers are starting to filter in as the virus has impacted the starts of the season for Buffalo Public Schools and Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association teams.

Athletic Director Michael House confirmed that Buffalo Public Schools teams have called off games and scrimmages until further notice. They are allowed to have closed-practice sessions with their respective coaches, indoor or outdoor, when schools are open.

"We want the safest environment for our students and coaches," House said. "That's the utmost priority."

The situation will be updated next week, most likely Tuesday, pending Superintendent Kriner Cash's meeting with state health officials.

Early Friday afternoon, the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association announced it has canceled games and scrimmages for all its spring sports members through March 30 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

MMHSAA Executive Director Pete Schneider said schools can practice at their discretion. But the decision was made in consultation with the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association and guidelines from the health department, he said.

“Since we’re in uncharted waters, we’ll review it as we go along,” Schneider said.

Canisius Athletic Director Jim Mauro said the association's decision is the right call.

"There's obviously an unknown," Mauro said. "Give it two weeks, it could be worse, it could be better. I think it's wise not to jump to conclusions.

"Hopefully things will get under control for people's health and safety."

Other Western New York teams are canceling their spring trips or having them canceled. Starpoint announced that its softball team will no longer be going to Kentucky to play games because of the outbreak.

Ken-Ton Athletic Director Brett Banker said Kenmore West softball's annual trip to Cocoa Beach, Fla., has been canceled, but that's the only amendment to any teams' schedule at the moment.

"With the complexity of the issues and how quickly things are changing, it's difficult to come to any final decision on our spring schedules," Banker said. "To date, no changes have been made to our league schedules. The athletic directors in the Niagara Frontier League are considering a special meeting next week to discuss different scenarios and solutions for each of them.

Banker also said several districts have canceled winter sports banquets of more than 50 people and delayed fundraising initiatives.

St. Joe's Athletic Director Brian Anken said the baseball and lacrosse teams won't be making their usual out-of-town road trips during Easter break. Baseball was heading to Myrtle Beach, S.C., while lacrosse was going to play games in Albany and Maryland, Anken said.

Meanwhile, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association sent a release Friday afternoon clarifying what it meant using the term the indefinite postponement for the calling off of  its winter state and regional championships in boys and girls basketball, boys hockey and bowling.

"Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director, will continue to evaluate the situation and do his best to determine the future of winter championships as soon as possible with input from the membership and Executive Committee. Dr. Zayas is cautiously optimistic the winter state championships will be conducted for our student-athletes.  Winter sport teams may continue to practice at the approval of their school district.  If and when winter state championships are able to resume, teams will be provided ample time to practice and prepare."

The New York State Federation Tournament of Basketball Champions at Fordham University is officially canceled, The New York State Federation of Secondary Schools Athletic Association announced Friday night. The news isn't surprising considering New York City is under a state of emergency because of the coronavirus.

The event, which brings together the champions of the NYSPHSAA, NYSCHSAA, New York City PSAL and New York Alliance of Independent Schools tournaments, was slated for March 27-29.

On Thursday, safety concerns resulted in the cancellation of the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Assocation boys and girls basketball tournaments, with the NYSPHSAA also announcing it has indefinitely postponed all of its remaining championship events.

Chris Watson, spokesman for the NYSPHSAA, said Friday night that the decision to scrap the Federation Tournament of Champions does not impact the indefinite postponement of the NYSPHSAA events.

"When we are able to resume the winter championships, teams will be given at least a week to prepare," Zayas said prior to the Federation's announcement. "Understand however that this situation continues to rapidly change."

That follows a national trend. According to the Zayas, New York is among 14 states that have postponed their state basketball tournaments as of Friday morning. Another 10 states have canceled the events. Eleven states are playing but with restricted access to spectators. Louisiana and Montana were planning to play with no restrictions.

The NCAA is expected to prohibit on-campus or off-campus recruiting through April 15.


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