HHSAA reinforces “no-contact” policy until Aug. 19

If the Hawaii High School Athletic Association hadn’t made its point before, it hopes it has now.

The governing body’s executive board Monday voted to adopt a “no-contact” period for prep sports through Aug. 18, a move that comes less than a week after it was reported that the Interscholastic League of Honolulu had given its member institutions approval to practice, citing lack of HHSAA jurisdiction when school is not in session.

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The HHSAA’s release said “there shall be no instructional or developmental sport-specific activity allowed between high school coaches and student-athletes” prior to Aug. 19, threatening penalties for violators.

Last week, the Hawaii State Department of Education announced extracurricular and co-curricular activities, including athletics, were scheduled to begin on Aug. 19.

Ostensibly, the “no-contact” period has been in effect ever since the HHSAA suspended interscholastic competition March 16 during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, the HHSAA extended the suspension indefinitely.

“It was an agreement from the five leagues to suspend everything, but there was no real consistency in penalties,” Hawaii Prep athletic director Stephen Perry said. “It was more of a gentleman’s agreement, and unfortunately there was a league out there that wasn’t following the agreement, and people were getting (mad).

“We’ve never really had these restrictions in place at this time of year, but this year everything is different.”

Typically, the HHSAA calender offers a “yellow” offseason from mid-May to July for unrestricted activities, such as voluntary workouts.

Perry said he thought the BIIF’s programs had been following the “no-contact” period all along, adding that BIIF executive director Lyle Crozier “had gotten a few calls and questions, but that’s about it.”

According to the HHSAA release, each league will determine its workout restrictions beginning Aug. 19 as the calendar will move to the “out-of-season conditioning and weight training” period.

“The public schools will start school (Aug. 4), and hopefully after two weeks everything goes well,” Perry said, “and programs will move forward. Even then, there will be guidelines put in place.”

Last week, HHSAA executive director Chris Chun said the start of the fall sports seasons – involuntary practice and tryouts – had been pushed back two to four weeks. The earliest football can start is Aug. 31, while girls volleyball, bowling, cross-country, bowling, air riflery and cheer won’t get rolling until at least Sept. 14.

“This is a significant change to our start-date calendar as summer activities have been determined by each individual school,” Chun said in Monday’s release. “However, during this time, our executive board felt that this change was necessary to protect the health and safety of our student-athletes. This will still allow adequate time for conditioning as our first contests for most fall sports are not slated to begin until at least mid-September.”

After it was announced last week that an assistant football coach at Iolani had tested positive for COVID-19, the school provided KHON2 in Honolulu with a statement saying,”Iolani School, along with the other schools in the ILH, received approval for practices from the ILH. HHSAA has no jurisdiction over ILH programs during the summer “yellow” period when school is not in session.”

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On Monday, the HHSAA said start-date penalties for violations will include the suspension of a coach for part or the entire season.

Editor’s note: This story has been modified to reflect that KHON2 was provided the statement from Iolani and that a positive COVID-19 test from an assistant football coach at the school prompted the query.

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