The Midstate Athletic Conference announced on Feb. 8 that it will add Southern Tier Athletic Conference schools Norwich and Oneonta and proceed with a basketball season.
The MAC basketball season can begin Feb. 8 and runs through March 6. The league’s announcement comes following resolutions by area health departments authorizing “high-risk” sports under the condition that the COVID-19 7-day rolling average percent positivity rate remains under 4.0%. Schools must also compose a plan regarding safety and submit it to their respective health departments for approval.
“Our goal is to return to play as safely as we possibly can and that due to the pandemic schools will have different health and safety requirements for student athletes to return to the court, to cut down travel time, and to ensure everyone’s safety during practices and games,” the MAC announced via a press release.
According to Terry Raymond, MAC secretary and treasurer, the league superintendents and athletic directors met via Zoom to establish a plan for league play. The group voted unanimously (12-0) to move forward with a basketball season.
“They’re hoping to get eight to nine games,” Raymond said.
“The concern is just getting kids games and with the athletic directors scheduling games amongst themselves and having multiple counties to cross, that creates some issues …. this is kind of a difficult time and we’re trying to make the best of a bad situation,” he continued.
The MAC spans four counties — Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Otsego — and usually includes Afton, Deposit, Bainbridge-Guilford, Delaware Academy, Hancock, Harpursville, Unadilla Valley, Unatego, Sidney, and Walton schools.
For this year, the MAC will also include Norwich and Oneonta. According to Raymond, the STAC (Norwich and Oneonta’s usual conference), is only playing in Broome County where the majority of its schools are located.
The league voted to not allow fans to attend MAC games except for on senior night; each player will be allowed two spectators.
“We have gone over this in multiple scenarios and obviously we have pushed it, pushed it, pushed it, and now they feel that they can safely begin as long as there’s no spectators — other than a senior contest — and they’re going to try and schedule a senior contest as soon as possible because you never know when a stoppage of play will happen,” Raymond said.
The league also voted not to offer wrestling this season.
“After talking with the Bainbridge-Afton-Harpursville coach, he did not think it was in the best interest of the kids who needed 10 days of practice and that would have taken them down to approximately two weeks of competition — and they weren’t sure how they were going to transport kids from school to school being that they were Bainbridge, Afton and Harprusville,” Raymond said.
“That was a very big concern for them — and the same thing with Unatego and Unadilla Valley,” he added.
Although MAC league play will not happen this season, schools are able to schedule wrestling contests among themselves.
According to the NYS DOH Percentage Positive Results by County Dashboard on Feb. 8, the 7-day rolling average percent positivity rate is above 4% in Broome (4.5%) and Chenango (4.5%) counties, but below 4% in Delaware (3.2%) and Otsego (2.4%) counties.
“If for some reason they have to stop play they’ll do that and they’ll do it in a safe manner,” Raymond said.
For the most up-to-date information on the 7-day rolling average percent positivity rate visit forward.ny.gov/percentage-positive-results-county-dashboard
The Daily Star reached out to Mike Rullo, superintendent of Harpursville Central School and president of the MAC but did not receive a response by press time.