As a public service, PinalCentral is offering all coverage of COVID-19 to readers free of charge.
Please consider supporting local journalism with a subscription. 
This coverage is brought to you, in part, by Allwell from Arizona Complete Health.

PHOENIX — The Arizona Interscholastic Association is holding out hope that it can salvage its spring sports season, although all games are suspended for the next two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After a meeting of its executive board Monday morning, the AIA announced the suspension of all games and events through March 28. The earliest possible date to resume games is March 30.

“The AIA Executive Board, at this time, has decided not to postpone or cancel the spring championship season,” the AIA said in a statement. “The governor’s office and the state health department have recommended a two-week suspension of school and activities. If this timeframe holds true, it should hopefully not impact postseason tournaments.”

The AIA will keep “all processes in place for postseason tournaments,” adding it will be prepared to hold tournaments in their entirety, even if the spring season extends “for any period of time.”

However, the AIA is deferring to individual schools and districts on whether or not they want to conduct practices during this period.

“Our first objective is to get students back in the classroom and then have them return to the athletic arenas when appropriate,” the AIA statement reads. “As Board members we will work diligently with our constituents to ensure a smooth transition back to school as usual.”

Casa Grande Union, Vista Grande, Poston Butte, Florence, ALA-Ironwood and Combs are just a few Pinal schools that will not hold any practices during this time.

Meanwhile, the Canyon Athletic Association, a separate league of charter schools in Arizona, told PinalCentral on Friday that it is suspending all games, effective immediately. The CAA also hopes to resume games starting March 30.

“The Executive Board is hoping that we can resume activities as scheduled and that the league is able to award Spring 2020 State Championships in all our activities,” CAA Executive Director Randall Baum said in an email. “League staff will be planning out a new end of season schedule to have available if we are able to return to competitions in our CAA communities.”

NJCAA cancels all remaining sports

The Central Arizona College women’s basketball team will not have an opportunity to play for its fifth national championship. The Division I women’s National Tournament in Lubbock Texas, along with the Division I men’s tournament and the Division II men’s and women’s tournaments, have all been canceled.

CAC (28-3) was originally scheduled to begin play in the 24-team tournament last Wednesday as the No. 6 seed.

CAC coach Denise Cardenas talked with PinalCentral last week, when the tournament was merely suspended and not yet canceled.

“It’s the same for everybody,” she said. “This is the first time dealing with this, and no team is going to have the focus it needs. We all have to figure out in our own way how to get through.”

The announcement came Monday, and the NJCAA also canceled all of its spring sports.

“In light of the progressive evolvement of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, the NJCAA has decided to end all competition for the remainder of the academic year,” stated Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA president & CEO. “As an association, the NJCAA exhausted all possible avenues to potentially postpone competition for both upcoming basketball championships and spring sport competition. We believe following the recommendations of the CDC is in the best interest of our member colleges and our student-athletes.”

The NJCAA stated “spring competition” includes all practices, regular season, postseason and national championships.

CAC Athletic Director Chuck Schnoor spoke to PinalCentral after hearing the news of all the cancellations.

“I was hopeful we could continue, but I felt this was inevitable,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s for the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”