CHARLESTON -West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission Executive Director Bernie Dolan didn’t get out of bed expecting to have to make the decision he made Thursday afternoon.
In what turned out to be an unprecedented day for the WVSSAC, Dolan Thursday announced that the ongoing girls state basketball tournament at the Charleston Coliseum and the boys Class AA regional tournaments around the state were being suspended immediately due to concerns with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
“West Virginia has been pretty lucky, as of right now there are no confirmed cases of the virus in West Virginia,” Dolan told media gathered at the Charleston Coliseum covering the girls tournament. “But as things begin to unravel around us, we certainly want to play it safe and make sure you do the right thing. It looked like we were going to be OK through the girls tournament.
“As more cases ended up around us, we have so many border states and counties, you know at some point we are probably going have a case. So we certainly felt like this was the prudent thing to do was to go ahead and suspend the (girls) tournament at this point. It’s an awkward time to do it but this was not going at a normal pace and the reactions to it were quick and mighty and you certainly didn’t want to be on the wrong side of it.”
He also announced the boys regional AA tournament was postponed.
Governor Jim Justice, also a coach at Greenbrier East, which was scheduled to play in the state tournament Thursday evening, made the initial announcement at the press conference at the state capitol Thursday afternoon.
Dolan spoke after the final press conference by Parkersburg Catholic, which beat Tucker County 85-47 in what, for now, was the final state tournament game.
What will happen in the future with the tournaments remains to be seen.
The Charleston Gazette Thursday reported that the Charleston Coliseum Board of Directors announced that any events at their venue that would draw more than 250 people for the next 30 days are canceled.
“I’m sure the big question is, when will we get back?” Dolan said. “When will we get back? When will we do it? Where will we do it? I think those questions have to be answered but we we can’t answer them today because we don’t know where this virus situation is going to take us. We have been watching, and working with people trying to figure it out.”
Local games affected include regional boys games featuring Shady Spring at Westside and Independence at Bluefield and girls state tournament games that had Greenbrier East taking on Martinsburg and Summers County battling Pocahontas County in an all-Region 3 matchup.
Dolan said the WVSSAC on Thursday had consulted with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the state superintendent of schools and the Governor’s Office before the decision was made.
Dolan said teams that are still alive in the postseason can practice and that spring sports team can practice “in small groups.”
In a related incident, Wyoming County Schools Superintendent Dierdre Cline announced that all extracurricular activities at county schools has been postponed as a safety measure against the Coronavirus.