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CIAC football committee recommends moving season to spring of 2021

Plans for a condensed high school fall sports season appear to have hit their first roadblock.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference football committee — a 10-person group comprised of principals, athletic directors, coaches, and advisors — voted Monday to recommend moving its sport to the spring of 2021.

Whether that happens — and in what form — has yet to be determined.

The CIAC Board of Control has the final say on any recommendation and is scheduled to meet Wednesday.

"I think we're all questioning what's best for each particular sport," said Ledyard athletic director Jim Buonocore, a member of the football committee (along with Montville head coach Tanner Grove). "Today was football-specific, but every fall sports committee is meeting this week, so a lot will depend on what other fall sports decide before we know what a spring season will look like."

Stonington coach Jenna Tucchio, a member of the CIAC field hockey committee, said her group is meeting on Tuesday, and Lyman Memorial athletic director Scott Elliott is a member of the soccer committee, which will meet Wednesday morning. The swimming and volleyball committees met Monday, and cross country will meet by Wednesday.

The CIAC announced two weeks ago its plan to play a condensed, regional fall sports season starting Sept. 24, featuring a maximum number of eight football games and 14 for other fall sports, culminating with a "tournament" in each sport between Nov. 2 and 15 (Oct. 31-Nov. 8).

"At this point, we're following the process we laid out," CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini told Sean Patrick Bowley of the New Haven Register. "We submitted our plan on July 31, which gave time for our superintendents, principals, athletic directors and coaches across the state to review it and offer feedback.

"This week, we're reviewing and meeting with the individual sports committees to consider the feedback we've received, and any recommendations would be reviewed by (the board of control)."

Buonocore admitted the football committee had concerns about the ability to keep its sport safe.

"We saw the snowball getting bigger and bigger the last couple of days," he said. "College football appears to be falling apart. Where will we go? Nobody knows yet. We have to see how the dominoes fall from the other sports. Our goal is to make high school sports the safest way possible ... not only for the student-athletes, but for coaches, trainers and other personnel involved."

One model that has been discussed — and already implemented by other states — is playing a condensed high school season in 2021, playing the winter season in January and February, the fall in March and April and the spring in May and June.

"Does everybody push off and move the season to 2021?" Buonocore said. "I'm sure we'll have a clearer vision of what, if anything, will happen this fall, or whether will there be full movement to 2021, after the (board of control) meeting. That plan definitely allows small schools to push student-athletes into a three-sport model."

Either way, Buonocore said local schools will be ready. The Eastern Connecticut Conference has a meeting Thursday to finalize its regionalized fall sports schedule that will include four technical schools in eastern Connecticut — Ellis, Grasso, Norwich, and Windham — plus Parish Hill of Chaplin.

"We still don't know how next couple of days will play out," said Buonocore, is part of the ECC schedule committee along with commissioner Gary Makowicki and fellow athletic directors Elliott, Bryan Morrone of Stonington, and Marc Romano of Montville. "But either way we're ready to move forward."

c.banning@theday.com

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