MHSAA announcement imminent; winter finals, spring seasons expected to be canceled

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed all K-12 buildings for the rest of the school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a decision that likely spells the end for winter sports championships and spring sports seasons.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association and executive director Mark Uyl announced Thursday it expects an official announcement no later than Friday.

But John Johnson, a spokesman for the MHSAA, previously told The News that if schools ended up being closed for the school year, sports would be canceled, too.

The boys and girls basketball finals could be canceled.

The MHSAA released a statement on its website Thursday afternoon:

“The Michigan High School Athletic Association will announce no later than Friday afternoon the status of its 2019-20 winter and wpring seasons, after the directive by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closing school buildings and moving education online during her ordered state of disaster.”

Uyl added: “We’re reviewing the governor’s announcement, asking questions and will make a statement as we continue to digest this order.”

Technically, as of now, the winter championships and spring seasons remain suspended.

Detroit Country Day baseball standout Saborn Campbell might not get another at-bat this spring and might have to wait until the summer to take the field with his travel club, Canes National out of North Carolina, playing tournaments in Georgia, Florida and Arizona.

“It’s been difficult for everyone and everyone has had to adapt to it,” Campbell said of not playing baseball. “It’s been tough, but I’ve been able to work out at home for when I’ll be able to play baseball because there’s going to be baseball down the line and eventually football. I’m sure some of the early travel baseball tournaments will be pushed back, too.”

Campbell, who committed to Stanford for baseball his freshman year, also received a football scholarship offer from Michigan State last week.

Official recruiting visits also are on hold, per NCAA rules.

“I’m going to be a two-sport athlete in college and hopefully Stanford allows me to do both, but right now I am committed to Stanford,” Campbell said. “Other schools have reached out to me to play both sports, Michigan State recently offered me, a couple Ivy League schools have, Michigan and Indiana have, too.

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“Michigan coaches offered me, Coach (Safeties coach Bob) Shoop and a couple of other coaches after the football season. I got a text from them yesterday. Michigan State offered me the 26th (of March). Coach Tucker is a great guy. He’s coming to make a change to the program.”

Not being able to take official visits isn’t a problem for Campbell.

“It’s not too big of a deal, I’ve already been to every school pretty much since I started baseball early and most of the schools that have been contacting me for football already offered me for baseball,” he said.

But, Campbell, whose father Jon Campbell played at Michigan State, also has a 3.8 grade-point-average and misses going to school.

“It's a big transition, online schooling,” Campbell said. “I miss physically being in school and learning in person rather than online. It’s just different.”

Harper Woods three-star center Davion Weatherspoon has recovered from an ankle injury which cut his junior season short this past fall. He had an offer from Michigan, but knows that is no longer on the table with another center recently committing to the Wolverines.

Now, Weatherspoon has other things on his mind, like his SAT test which was scheduled for later this month but no longer is offered as well.

The MHSAA will make an official announcement no later than Friday.

“This virus really messed everything up for me,” Weatherspoon said. “I had commitment dates set. I had some visits planned and everything got pushed back.

"I want to explore all my options, so I have to wait this out, then visit some schools and go from there.”

Weatherspoon had visits planned for Ohio, Kentucky and Toledo. Central Michigan, Oregon State, Bowling Green and Arkansas State are some of his other offers. He’s had FaceTime calls with coaches and virtual reality visits over the phone, including a phone call with the strength and conditioning coach of Ohio Wednesday and was offered by Liberty University earlier this week.

“I love school, without school none of this (scholarship offers) would have happened,” said Weatherspoon, who has a 3.0 GPA. “We’re not in school no more and that’s really messed up recruiting process since all the juniors haven’t taken the SAT yet and that plays a big role in junior recruiting at this time. Our school was supposed to take the SAT sometime in April and now that won’t happen."

Suspended winter championships include boys and girls basketball, hockey, girls gymnastics and boys swimming and diving. Suspended spring sports seasons include baseball, softball, boys golf, girls golf (Upper Peninsula), boys and girls lacrosse, girls soccer, boys tennis (UP), girls tennis (Lower Peninsula), and boys and girls track and field.

Winter sports such as wrestling, boys and girls bowling, competitive cheer, boys and girls skiing and UP girls swimming and diving completed their finals before the shutdown went into effect last week.

If the basketball finals aren't played, it'll be the first time since World War II.

The basketball tournament draws in more than $1 million in revenues for the MHSAA. Johnson previously told The Detroit News, "It's a blow, but it's not a crippling blow to the association. We have some reserves that will enable us to keep serving schools."

Tony Paul contributed to this report.