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MIAA approves indoor space for Fall II football workouts, with a 25-player limit

North Attleborough football coach Don Brown will be able conduct conditioning workouts indoors for the start of the Fall II season, with his players stationed at least 14 feet apart.
North Attleborough football coach Don Brown will be able conduct conditioning workouts indoors for the start of the Fall II season, with his players stationed at least 14 feet apart.Debee Tlumacki/For the Globe/file

In a virtual meeting Thursday, the MIAA’s Board of Directors approved the use of indoor space such as a basketball court or field house for conditioning workouts for football for the upcoming Fall II season.

In updated guidance released Monday by the state’s Executive Office or Energy and Environmental Affairs for Phase 3, Step 1 of the COVID-19 reopening plan, football as well as rugby (which will be played in the spring season) were cleared for indoors Level 1 activity — defined as “individuals or socially distanced group activities” such as non-contact workouts, aerobic conditioning, individual skill work, and drills.

MIAA associate director Richard Pearson presented the recommendation of the Sports Medicine Committee, which met Monday following the release of the updated EEA guidance. Although the EEA removed references to maximum number of players on a playing surface, Sports Medicine voted 16-1 to recommend retaining the previous language of no more than 25 players on an indoor playing surface at one time.

The board additionally discussed whether schools with larger gyms or field houses with multiple court spaces could hold concurrent 25-player conditioning workouts, with at least 14 feet of spacing between groups per EEA guidelines. Ultimately, the board voted 20-0 to approve the recommendation, which will allow football teams to conduct conditioning workouts indoors beginning with the start of Fall II on Feb. 22.


▪ In a separate email to the Globe following the meeting, Pearson indicated the MIAA still is working to get clarification on whether indoor conditioning practices will count toward the 15 needed before teams can play their first games.

Several board members, including athletic directors Pete Rittenburg (Brookline) and Tom Arria (Cambridge), asked during the Jan. 29 meeting to approve Fall II sports how the timeline would work, particularly with the potential of bad weather affecting teams’ ability to conduct outdoor practices.


Thom Holdgate, Duxbury AD and co-chair of the COVID-19 Task Force, told the Globe that his understanding is that the rule only requires at least 15 practices (no contact before Day 6), with no minimum standard for what those practices can entail.

In other business from Thursday’s meeting:

▪ The board unanimously voted to waive the two-year waiting period and allow Lynn Classical and Lynn English to transition to the Greater Boston League from the Northeastern Conference, beginning in Fall 2021.

Both the GBL and NEC unanimously approved the moves last November. With the additions of the two Lynn schools, the GBL will increase to eight members – joining Everett, Malden, Medford, Revere and Somerville, as well as Chelsea.

“We look forward to rebuilding the Greater Boston League, and we look forward to having Lynn Classical and Lynn English join us in the fall,” Malden athletic director Charlie Conefrey said.

Lynn Classical and English, which have not competed in any sports so far during the 2020-21 school year as a result of the pandemic, also potentially could be approved locally in the coming days to compete with the Greater Boston League beginning March 1. The GBL, which also did not field any sports during the fall or winter, last month approved its own three-season calendar that will begin with competition in boys’ and girls’ basketball as well as boys’ hockey. The GBL previously approved a Fall II schedule from April 12 to May 15, and spring season from May 17 to July 3.


“We’re all ready to move forward. There’s no objections from the Northeastern Conference,” said Marblehead principal Dan Bauer.

▪ MIAA vice president Lindsey von Holtz (Mount Greylock) presented a report from the Finance Committee, which highlighted the association’s revenue challenges during the pandemic with no MIAA tournaments since last March. She pointed out that winter tournaments typically are the largest revenue generator for the MIAA.

“I admit it has been a whole lot more challenging to compare numbers to previous years because of the pandemic,” von Holtz said. “We will start to see the negative impact in the coming months on those, more than we have yet.”

Von Holtz told the board the financials currently contain an Economic Injury Disaster Loan that will need to be paid back starting on October, as well as a Paycheck Protection Program loan — of which she said all but about $52,000 already has been forgiven, with the expectation that the remainder will be forgiven as well. She added that associate director Sherry Bryant is applying for an additional PPP loan.

▪ The board came to a consensus that this year’s annual meeting should be held virtually on the original scheduled April 9 date. Executive director Bill Gaine told the board the other options would be to postpone the meeting to June, still to be held in person, or for the board to assume responsibility for the meeting as is allowed in the association’s constitution.


“There must be an expense to running this at a hotel, so obviously we want to keep our costs down considering revenue is down,” Carver principal Mike Schultz said.

▪ MIAA president Jeffrey Granatino opened the meeting by acknowledging the recent announcement that Gaine will be retiring from his position on Sept. 1. Aside from a brief retirement in 2012, Gaine has been with the MIAA since 1979.

“The MIAA is forever kind of interwoven with Bill’s career,” Granatino said. “Going back to the earliest days to 42 years later, Bill’s impact on this association as well as the [Massachusetts Secondary Schools Association] has been dramatic and impactful.”

The 76-year-old Gaine said he was “grateful” for his long tenure.

“I’m tremendously appreciative. I consider it a real privilege to have the opportunity to serve, and I hope I have satisfied you, my board and former boards, as far as accountability and service,” Gaine said. “I’ve just had a great run.”

Granatino said the process to find Gaine’s replacement has not yet started, but the hope was to have someone in place by the summer. “We will do it right and be thorough,” he said.

Jim Clark can be reached at jim.clark@globe.com.