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Town Hall: Interview with BPS athletic director about the cancellation of fall sports

The Buffalo Public Schools athletic director says there's a possibility fall sports could be played this spring.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Michael House, the athletic director for the Buffalo Public School District, joined 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik on Tuesday's Town Hall. 

The school district announced Tuesday afternoon that all fall sports will be cancelled, including all practices and workouts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can read the full interview below.

Dudzik: "Joining me now is Michael House, he's the athletic director for the entire district. Michael, how did you come to this decision? Why did you decide to cancel fall sports all together?"

House: "Sure, with having our students 100-percent working academically remotely from home, that was a big decision maker in the process. Along with consulting with our public health officials, and our BPS advisory council, our school board, and all of our student athletes, parents, administrators, teachers, and coaches throughout the district, with the collaborative decision based on science and data making sure that we're making the best decision for our students and staff here in Buffalo Public Schools." 

Dudzik: "The state is just not allowing high impact sports, so there are some districts that are still allowing cross country, for example, why not allow those sports to do practices and play games and have meets this fall, and just not do sports like football?" 

House: "Sure, logistically, in our district, we have twenty high schools and so we also are presented with a lot of operational challenges that everyone's not aware of because of the magnitude and the volume, high number of students and staff in our district. So because of those operational challenges, we also felt that we need to err on the side of caution with the priority of safety for our students." 

Dudzik: "Some colleges moved fall sports to the spring. Is that a possibility for Buffalo Schools?"

House: "Absolutely. We're going to continuously monitor and analyze the data and continue to consult with our medical advisors and try to make the best informed decisions moving forward for our student-athletes and coaches." 

Dudzik: "What about students who are looking forward to maybe playing sports in the fall for their senior year? Maybe they're hoping to continue that athletic career in college. What can they do? What suggestions do you have if they're entire senior season ends up being cancelled?" 

House: "We would want them to make sure that they have their academics and all their athletics in order. In other words, their SAT, ACT, making sure that their transcript and grades are completed on the educational level. And then athletically, making sure that you have some film and that you've been in contact with college recruiters and that you're staying in constant contact with them. And then try to see if they're open for visits and making sure that you're getting out to the college campus and staying in touch with them and seeing what verbal offers or written offers that you have. And then, you know, recruitment coordinators, find out who they are on each college staff and make sure that you're doing everything that you can to show your full array of skills and abilities so that way you can end up going on to college and a career."

Dudzik: "And, do you think that there could be a higher interest in any of the spring sports now that the fall sports are cancelled?" 

House: "Sure, the NCAA has modified some of the rules that they have and qualifications for scholarships, so there may be more emphasis on some of those sports for those student athletes, but we do have high participation numbers in a lot of our fall, winter, and spring sports. Basketball is one of our most popular sports, and so, we just hope that we do have some sort of opportunity, but the data has to be safe and we have to have that opportunity, hopefully, later in the school year for students." 

Dudzik: "Is there any chance that this decision could be reversed or that fall sports could end up happening later on in the season?" 

House: "Well, as we continue to move forward, we're going to evaluate. We're going to get through flu season. We want to bring all of our students back on campus to make sure that we're aggressively academically prioritizing with our programs and making sure that everybody's safe, but our hope would be that we could." 

Dudzik: "And, if a student-athlete or a parent has a question, who should they contact?" 

House: "They should first reach out to the coach regarding any athletic questions they may have. See if their coach, or we have athletic liaisons in all 19 of our high schools, so they can check in with the athletic liaison, and then if they weren't able to get any answers, more than likely they can call our office any time they'd like." 

Dudzik: "All right, we'll put that number on the website for everybody. Michael, thank you so much for being part of our Town Hall today." 

House: "Thank you for this opportunity. Appreciate it."

You can contact the BPS Athletic Director by calling the district office at (716) 816-3500.