Gov. Walz: Spring sports season ‘unlikely’ to happen

Gov. Tim Walz provides an update on the state's response to COVID-19 and confirmed cases have surfaced at JBS Pork processing plant in Worthington during a news conference on Friday, April 17, 2020 in St. Paul. (Christine T. Nguyen/MPR News, Pool)

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is not optimistic about the prospect of spring sports returning this high school season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Walz said, “I think it’s unlikely” when asked about the possibility of schools reopening and high school activities resuming this spring during his daily news conference Monday, April 20.

"And to me, somebody who's been around as a high school coach for all those years, it just breaks my heart,” said Walz, a former Mankato West assistant football coach. “And I do think students losing contact with their classmates and losing contact with their teachers and coaches, it has a real detrimental effect."

The state’s schools will remain closed until May 4. Consequently, the Minnesota State High School League has suspended spring sports through that same date.

While neither the school year nor the spring sports season in Minnesota have yet been canceled, at least 34 states -- including the neighboring states of Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin -- have either ordered or recommended school closures for the rest of the academic year. Additionally, at least 33 state associations, including the three aforementioned neighboring states, have canceled their spring sports seasons.


The MSHSL board of directors will meet virtually at 9 a.m. Friday, April 24. Spring sports and activities are listed as an action item on the agenda.

The University of Minnesota has also told the MSHSL its facilities will be closed through May and June, the Star Tribune reported, leaving questions over where state tournaments could be held.

"I come back to the idea that I think the things we've missed the most are going to be some of the hardest things to get started again, and that's difficult for me,” Walz said. “So at this point in time I'm not super-optimistic about it. … Probably sometime this week I could forecast to you we will be making a call around schools and these types of things to give people a heads up.”

Walz was sympathetic to those who have been holding onto hope that a spring season could be salvaged.

"Those who have high school athletes in their family know that so much effort and excitement is put into this and then you're at a point where it's your pinnacle season and you're going to win a state championship, and all that was taken away,” he said. “… I don't want to set up any false expectations. I think anything you play close together where you're touching the same ball, or you're in large groups, that's going to be hard.”

Austin Monteith is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of Bloomington, Ill., he is a 2015 graduate of Butler University. Follow him on Twitter at @amonteith92. Contact the Pioneer sports department at
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