The KHSAA Board of Control on Thursday voted to keep its current plan for starting competition in fall sports on Sept. 7.
Louisville Courier Journal
The Kentucky Board of Education will meet Friday to discuss high school athletics in the state, but Kentucky Department of Education interim commissioner Kevin Brown clarified Thursday there will not be a vote to postpone or cancel fall sports.
“While I understand the emotion around the issue, there’s been a lot said that’s not true,” Brown said in an interview with The Courier Journal. “It is not up for a decision (Friday) whether or not there will continue to be fall sports, whether or not there will continue to be football. That is not up for a decision by the board. …
“There is no decision point (Friday) about canceling athletics. There is a decision point on whether the state board of education has concerns about fall sports during a pandemic, about whether or not there are health effects that could affect students.”
The board announced Wednesday night a special meeting scheduled for noon Friday. It will be livestreamed at https://mediaportal.education.ky.gov/watch-live/
Among those expected to speak during the meeting are KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett and Kentucky public health commissioner Dr. Steven Stack.
Related coverage: JCPS approves plan to move ahead with fall sports
Earlier: Supporters of fall sports in Kentucky to have ‘Let them play’ rally in Frankfort Monday
“The board has a statutory obligation, but a moral and ethical obligation, to put into the public record, to ask questions of their agent about things that may be controversial, about things that may cause concern from a health perspective and things that we know two rational people can disagree about,” Brown said.
Among the items on the agenda is “discussion and possible action to authorize the Kentucky Department of Education to develop written communication to be issued to the (Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control) … urging additional consideration of alternative options for high-contact fall sports.”
Brown said because of the narrow parameters of the meeting, there can be no vote on postponing or canceling fall sports. Asked what “additional consideration of alternative options” could entail, Brown said the board could urge the KHSAA to “double down on your guidance about safety” or contact area colleges to “see if it is feasible to test our athletes.”
“Yes, it’s conceivable the state board could say, ‘We have concerns, KHSAA. Please consider whether or not we should be having high-contact sports during the time at a heightened point of the virus where 85% of our schools are not in session,’” Brown said.
Last Thursday, the KHSAA voted to go forward with a plan to begin fall-sports practice this week, with competition starting Sept. 7 in cross country, field hockey, soccer and volleyball and on Sept. 11 in football.
The KHSAA is an agent of the Board of Education and manages interscholastic athletics. The 11 voting members of the Board of Education are appointed by the governor’s office. Earlier this week, Gov. Andy Beshear expressed doubts about the KHSAA moving forward with high school sports.
Also: Gov. Andy Beshear says he won’t overturn KHSAA’s plan to start fall sports
“We’re not going to overturn that decision,” Beshear said Monday, “and it’s not because I think it’s a good decision or a wise decision. But if we’re going to defeat this virus, we need people other than me, all over Kentucky, taking responsibility to make good and wise decisions.”
Toni Konz Tatman, interim director of communications for the Kentucky Department of Education, said the office received 12,000 calls from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday about Friday’s meeting.
“We normally get about 60 a day,” she said. “We’ve pulled in additional staff to answer phone calls, and we’ve done the best that we can today. … We’re going to work to respond to every single one.”
Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @kyhighs. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/jasonf.