HELENA -- Spring sports in Montana are officially canceled.
The Montana High School Association and executive director Mark Beckman sent a release on Wednesday afternoon following Governor Steve Bullock's press conference detailing the gradual re-opening of Montana, beginning with "Phase 1" this weekend. In that press conference, Bullock said schools would have the option to re-open beginning Thursday, May 7, three days after the MHSA's hard deadline of May 4.
"As you are aware, the Governor has issued a reopening plan for the state, which included local school districts to determine allowing in-person instruction on May 7," Beckman's release read. "Because of the previous MHSA Board action, resumption of spring activities depended on our students' ability to return to in-person instruction without restrictions by May 4, and if in-person instruction didn't resume by that time without restrictions, spring activities would be canceled. The spring 2020 season is canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which is affecting communities across our country."
On Thursday, April 9, the MHSA executive board met via conference call and agreed to extend the postponement of spring activities in Montana but stated that the season would be canceled if in-class schooling wasn't resumed by May 4. Wednesday afternoon, Beckman confirmed with the MHSA board that Governor Bullock's statements indeed put an end to the spring sports season.
Montana is one of the final 15 states to cancel high school spring sports. The MHSA previously had to cancel its state basketball tournaments at the conclusion of semifinal games, naming co-champions in each classification.
"We look forward to the resumption of high school activities during the 2020-21 school year with some level of normalcy," Beckman's release continued. "Our office will be entirely focused on contingency plans for the 2020 fall season and beyond, should they be needed. We will continue to communicate as state, local and health agencies keep us informed of new public health guidelines."
In an interview with MTN Sports on Wednesday afternoon, Beckman said he felt for the student-athletes, coaches, parents and officials that were holding out hope for a spring sports season.
"You look at some of these kids that, it’s their last opportunity to ever participate in a spring sport," he said. "There are a lot of them that were looking for personal bests or looking for championships, and there were a lot of teams that would have done really well, too. The seniors, definitely, it is difficult."
Montana's stay-at-home order will be lifted on Sunday, April 26, while other businesses and organizations will be able to remove their restrictions, though they must adhere to social distancing measures. For more information on Governor Bullock's plan for Phase 1, please click here.