COLUMBUS — There's still a chance the conclusion of the winter sports tournaments could be played out. Although that window of opportunity is closing quickly.

Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass, in a press conference Thursday, announced that winter sports tournaments, not concluded, and the spring sports seasons remain postponed indefinitely due to concerns from the coronavirus. He further stated that canceling these events is being talked about in their daily meetings.

The cancellation of the winter sports tournaments affected boys basketball teams from Columbus Grove and Ottawa-Glandorf and state bound wrestlers Jeff Meyer and Ezra Jones (alternate) from Columbus Grove. The state boys basketball tournament was due to start yesterday at the Schottenstein Center on the Ohio State University campus. The state wrestling tournament was supposed to be held last weekend at the same location.

“While the window of opportunity for our winter tournament is closing rapidly, we still remain that they are on an indefinite postponement,” Snodgrass said in a press conference from the OHSAA offices in Columbus. We do that for a simple reason. While again the window is closing, we also realizethat there are many other factors that people do no realize. Site availability, coaches availability, keeping in mind that our officials, there are people that are in the risk category that we cannot and will not subject to being faced with being infected by this virus.

“There are so many factors with this. Much of this hinges on future decisions by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on whether we close schools for a longer period of time. Extending our tournaments into the summer months, extending them even into May is very problematic on a lot of different fronts.”

State tournaments for girls basketball, wrestling and ice hockey and the boys regional basketball tournaments were postponed just over a week ago due to concerns for the spread of COVID-19. That announcement came a couple of hours before Gov. DeWine announced that he was closing schools March 16 through April 3 due to concerns with the virus.

Although Snodgrass said the winter sports tournaments are still in the postponed stage, a final decision could be made as early as Saturday during a question and answer session.

“We have to decide soon,” Snodgrass said. “I think it's imperative that we have to and cannot procrastinate. I do not want to lead people on and that's the number one thing I don't want to do and give them false hope.”

He added that if one winter sports tournament is cancelled all of them would be as they would not finish one without the others. And the longer schools are closed the chance of completing these winter seasons dims. A return to school in May would not be a positive to finish these seasons.

“And I know that upsets many people, but again there are so many factors. Keep in mind what we differ from in so many other levels of sport,” Snodgrass said. “We have many or our kids that play multiple sports. The impact of that impacts spring sports if they could continue. I know that's not a popular decision, but that's a decision I would shoulder the responsibility for.”

During the school closures, the OHSAA also implemented a no contact period between athletes and coaches. A no-contact period prohibits a coach from providing coaching instruction or open gyms to players. The OHSAA also shut down the use of athletic facilities during this time. Athletes are allowed to work out on their own.

That announcement halted the workouts of spring athletes getting ready for their upcoming season. With schools being closed for three weeks, should them resume on April 6, all spring teams would have to go through five days of mandatory practice before they would start play. As of now the spring seasons can start on Saturday, April 11. However, that date could change should schools be closed further by the governor in the upcoming days.

“What will change that overnight will be any decision by the governor to extend the closure of schools,” the director said. “Again it doesn't mean at this point with spring sports that we are canceling, but is canceling on the table? It absolutely has to be on the table.”

During the question and answer session that followed, a question was posed as to how this may affect the fall sports season. Fall teams are permitted to begin workouts around the first of August with contests starting later that month.

Director Snodgrass indicated they had not held any discussions on the fall season as of this moment, but those could be coming in the days ahead.