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The PIAA board of directors unanimously supported restarting high school sports on a county-by-county basis once Gov. Tom Wolf approves such activities.

The decision came during a lengthy Zoom meeting of the PIAA board on Wednesday afternoon.

“We gave the executive director, Dr. (Robert) Lombardi, the right to change that July 1 date according to anything that comes down from the Governor’s office or the (Pennsylvania) Department of Health,” said District 5 Chairman Paul Leonard, the Shade High School athletic director who was on the Zoom meeting. “Things are changing now. What was yellow is something a little different now. He (Wolf) is opening certain things.

“The last thing Gov. Wolf said is schools are closed until the end of the school year. We took that as July 1,” Leonard said of the board. “If the Governor comes back and says, ‘Schools in the yellow zone can resume workouts,’ or maybe he’ll change the number (allowed to be together) from 25. ... We still have to follow those guidelines. It’s whatever they deem the county. Red has to sit back and wait.”

The board discussed other options such as whether the PIAA should implement a restart on the same date for the entire state; or if it should permit schools from different regions that might be affected differently by the COVID-19 pandemic to restart at different times based on when each region is cleared.

The board supported allowing student-athletes to compete as long as the governor says sports may be played. 

Leonard said the meeting, which addressed a number of topics and hearings, began at 2:30 p.m. and concluded approximately five hours later.

Wolf has not indicated when sports might be permitted to resume.

The PIAA canceled its 2020 boys and girls basketball championship tournaments after the second round of play. Part of the state swimming championships also were not completed. The entire spring sports schedule was wiped out due to the coronavirus.

The PIAA previously had set July 1 as the earliest possible date high school teams could resume workouts. That could change based on future decisions by Gov. Wolf.

Leonard said that Wednesday’s action will enable the PIAA to act as soon as any restrictions are lifted at the state level rather than having to wait until the board’s next regularly scheduled Zoom meeting on June 15.

“It’s not going to take the entire board of directors to get together to say it’s OK,” Leonard said, noting 32 members are on the board. “The governor will say when it’s OK.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

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