WVSSAC executive director talks at length about uncertainty of high school football playoffs

Bernie Dolan, executive director of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission,...
Bernie Dolan, executive director of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission, talks about the uncertainty of high school football playoffs.(WSAZ)
Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 5:10 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Despite the uncertain cloud of COVID-19 hanging over high school sports this fall, the executive director of the WVSSAC says he feels good about what has been accomplished.

His optimism comes as high school playoff games this weekend appear to be in jeopardy.

But Bernie Dolan, executive director of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, said student athletes and coaching teams have a lot to be proud of this season.

“I say we’ve gotten a lot out of the fall -- probably more than we anticipated,” Dolan said Friday in a phone interview with Jim Treacy. “What we don’t want to do is change the rules midstream and say, ‘OK now if you’re red we’re going to test and play because you’re in the championships’ ... quite honestly there could be someone in the championships and maybe have won one game.”

Dolan said as COVID cases have surged in recent weeks, the situation has become more challenging for everyone -- from the governor to state health officials and high school programs wondering where they’re going from week to week.

“You think back to August when we were excited to get the games going,” he said. “It felt good starting out, but it has been a battle since the beginning of the playoffs.”

Dolan said if teams such as Spring Mills can get back to orange designation on the state’s COVID metrics map, it will be beneficial for everyone involved.

“That’s our best-case scenario. They’re not red by a lot. If we could just get them to stay orange and go orange, it will make the triple AAA playoffs much better,” he said.

Dolan added that further delays going into December don’t look likely.

“Especially the direction this thing’s going, there’s no reason to believe if we delay we’re going to get better results further in,” he said. “It’s always a risk the first week of December anyway, weather-wise. We’re almost to the point where we almost have to run it and, if it runs out of gas, it does. I don’t think there’s any way to be fair and delay it because some people who are good now might not be good after we delay.”

Dolan added that it’s important to trust state health officials and the data at hand. He also said he’s optimistic about the spring sports season.

“Hopefully those will go off without a hitch,” he said.

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