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OVAC postpones Banquet of Champions due to coronavirus pandemic

Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Executive Director Dirk DeCoy formally announced Wednesday that the annual Banquet of Champions has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision was made during the OVAC Executive Board meeting, held through Zoom just a few hours before DeCoy disclosed it during the athletic directors’ meeting, which also was held virtually.

The banquet, which was scheduled for May 13 at WesBanco Arena, is where several thousands dollars worth of scholarships, the overall champions, the student-achievement awards and OVAC Coach of the Year are presented annually.

While the deadline for student-athletes to submit their scholarship applications has been pushed to July 1, DeCoy announced that if spring sports are not contested neither the overall championships nor the student-achievement awards will be presented for 2020.

“If we don’t have spring sports, we can’t have those two awards because the spring seasons are a big part of the equation,” DeCoy said.

The Bill Van Horne Coach of the Year Award will be presented, but when remains to be seen. It can be given because the spring season stems from the year prior because when it’s presented in May the current spring hasn’t been completed.

“We’re going to award the coach of the year, but the timing may be off,” DeCoy said. “It could be announced in the summer or even when (schools) get back in August, but there will definitely be a coach of the year.”

As for the 2020 spring sports season, DeCoy announced, “Like everything else, we’re in a holding pattern.”

The OVAC has laid out several different scenarios, assuming school resumes and Ohio and West Virginia are able to play their respective spring sports seasons. However, OHSAA announced its revised calendar late Wednesday afternoon, but the WVSSAC has yet to formalize its new calendar once schools for if and when schools re-open.

“We’re seeing what we can do and we realize there’s a chance that everything can be canceled (by the states), but we need to be ready in case the schools resume session,” DeCoy said.

The OVAC’s spring sporting championship season was originally scheduled to begin on April 25 with the baseball semifinals. The tennis tournament, softball tournament and track and field qualifying were set to begin on April 27. Baseball, softball and track events were slated to culminate on May 2.

“Really, everything is on the table, but it’s useless to put things down as concrete,” DeCoy said. “If there’s room or an opportunity to have a tournament, we’ll look at it.”

The next time the OVAC will re-evaluate its chances is scheduled for May 1. That date corresponds to when Ohio and West Virginia’s state-a-home orders are supposed to be lifted with schools slated to re-open on May 4.

“We will see what happens (on May 1) and go from there,” DeCoy said. “We do not have an official date as to when we would have to cancel or make a decision by, but it could push into June. We’re trying with these spring sports to give these kids something they can hang on to.”

In other OVAC matters, DeCoy proclaimed the inaugural OVAC Bowling Championship to be a “huge success.” No fewer than 17 boys and 13 girls teams took part in the event, which was held in February at St. Clair Lanes.

“Gary Holubeck at St. Clair Lanes said that the OVAC was the largest crowd they’d ever had at St. Clair Lanes,” DeCoy said.

With the huge crowd came some concerns about safety, which is something that’s being addressed.

“We will have the event and we hope it continues to grow, but we need it to grow safely,” DeCoy said.

DeCoy didn’t offer any prospective plans, but did say he and the bowling committee are currently going over several ideas.

OVAC Track and Cross Country Commissioner Dugan Hill announced that the second-annual OVAC Junior High Track and Field Championship Meet, which was scheduled for May 1 at St. Clairsville’s Red Devil Stadium, has been canceled.

The push to add girls golf to the OVAC’s list of championship events hasn’t gone away. DeCoy stressed that 13 schools must sponsor the sport to meet the OVAC’s 25 percent rule. Along with that, DeCoy and the conference are hesitant because of some of the unknown about even fall sports due to the COVID-19.

“(Girls golf) is on the move and we hope to get there,” DeCoy said. “At this point, though, the last thing we probably want to try to do is implement a new sport.”

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