Category Archives: Press Releases

CIAC Football Contact Changes Highlight Safety & Collaboration

CHESHIRE, Conn. – Connecticut high school football is now in its fourth week of competition under new contact rules aimed at enhancing student-athlete safety.  At its spring meeting, the CIAC Football Committee unanimously approved a proposal put forward by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) to reduce the amount of full contact practice time for both the fall and spring seasons. The approved policy went to effect at the onset of the 2019 football preseason and is expected to reduce student-athlete exposures to concussion.

“I am proud of the collaborative effort between the CHSCA, CIAC, CAAD and legislators who continually prioritize the safety of our student-athletes,” CAS-CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini stated. “Connecticut legislation emphasizes best practices around concussion prevention, and our state athletic organizations continue to recognize the importance of that focus.  This change demonstrates a commitment from all high school athletic stakeholders to act in the best interest of our kids.”

The rules adopted this fall reduces the current allowance of full contact practice time by 50-percent during the fall season, and from 120 to 90 minutes during the spring practice season. The proposal, presented by the CHSCA, with approval from its Executive Board, reinforces student-athlete safety by minimizing exposures to injuries.

“As football coaches, we are concerned with the overall decline of athletes playing the game,” explained Harry Bellucci, Harford Public head football coach and CIAC Football Committee representative. “Besides injury reduction in practice we wanted to show parents that, as football coaches, we too are concerned for your child’s overall safety. This was part of the genesis of our thought process to halt the decline in participation numbers in this great game.”

Discussions between the CHSCA and CIAC on potential contact rule changes began in the fall of 2018, spurred by a presentation from the organization “Practice Like Pros.”  Leadership from the CIAC, CHSCA, Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors (CAAD), and several Connecticut legislative leaders including Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, and Representative Nicole Klarides-Ditria participated in discussions about the “Practice Like Pros” concept. Subsequent presentations from the organization – whose mission is to reduce needless injury in football by teaching strategies that reduce full contact – to the CIAC Football Committee and additional CHSCA representatives led to the CHSCA’s formal proposal.

A CIAC survey of football coaches and athletic directors indicated that both groups strongly supported the CHSCA proposal, which reflects best practices in football participation safety.

“With the advancement of science, we are learning more and more about how to better protect all athletes during games and practice,” said Rep. Klarides-Ditria. “We are seeing a growing trend of states and coaches that are reducing the amount of contact during practice and I am glad that Connecticut and the CIAC Football Committee are moving in that direction. I understand that football is a collision sport but it doesn’t mean that it should be a dangerous sport. We will continue to find smart ways to make it a safe sport for all athletes.”

“As players and coaches we all have a love for this wonderful game, and at the same time recognize that student safety has to be a top priority for everyone involved,” said Connecticut Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington) and head football coach at Berlin High School. “Reduced practice contact rules were recommended by the coaches themselves and are an important step in helping to meet this ongoing challenge. As a coach, I am already seeing the benefits from both a player safety standpoint, and the ability to spend more time developing skills through a focus on proper technique and strategy.”

“Any effort to safeguard our student athletes from future harm is a proactive step worth taking.  Working to help reduce contact time for football players during weekly practices will ensure that their overall health and development are at the forefront of their scholastic and athletic endeavors. I am happy to see Connecticut and the CIAC Football Committee move in this direction,” said House Republican Leader Themis Klarides.

Adoption of these new contact policies builds upon the collaborative work conducted in 2015 between the Connecticut State Medical Society Sports Medicine Committee and the CIAC Football Committee.  That collaboration resulted in adoption of a football safety rule which requires a gradual decrease in full contact time as the season progresses, as well as a mandatory bye week for all teams. Additionally, prior to the 2017 season, collaboration between these two committees resulted in a policy that limits athletes to a maximum of six quarters of participation per week.

“We (the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS) Sports Medicine Committee) work closely with CIAC to support a climate of safety for our student athletes,” said CSMS Sports Medicine Committee Chair, Stephanie Arlis-Mayor, MD. “We were very happy to hear that the collaborative proposal of CHSCA and CIAC to reduce the amount of full contact practice time for football was approved. It allows for our student athletes to learn the wonderful sport of football while continuing to emphasize safety.”

“With the recognition that continuing to be aware of best practices is now a crucial part of the education process, it’s commendable that the coaches put this proposal forward and the athletic directors were happy to support it and help it progress to being implemented,” said CAAD Executive Director Fred Balsamo.

The approved policies implemented in 2019 account for student athlete safety in football and align with Connecticut’s Public Act. 14-66, an Act Concerning Youth Athletics and Concussions, which requires annual concussion management updates for football coaches based on current best practices.  As participation in high school football declines across the country, the CIAC, CAAD, and CHSCA continue to work collaboratively with legislators and the Connecticut State Medical Society Sports Medicine Committee to counter this trend by proactively implementing measure to enhance student athlete safety.

CAS-CIAC Makes Staff Changes For New Year

CHESHIRE, Conn. – The Connecticut Association of Schools and Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CAS-CIAC) have made several staff changes prior to the start of the 2019-20 school year with four individuals joining the organization and another assuming a new role. Dr. Rosie O’Brien Vojtek, Henry Rondon, Dan Scavone, and Dr. Bill Silva have all joinedContinue Reading

CIAC Statement On Notification of OCR Inquiry

CIAC Statement On Notification of OCR Inquiry

CHESHIRE, Conn. – The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) received notification that the United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights has opened an inquiry in regard to the CIAC’s policy on transgender athlete eligibility.  The CIAC is committed to equity in providing opportunities to student athletes in Connecticut, and the CIAC will participateContinue Reading

Unified Sports Director George Synnott Announces Retirement

George Synnott, Director of Unified Sports® for CIAC and CT Special Olympics, has announced his plan to retire at the close of the school year. George has worked with the Unified Sports division for the past nine years, serving as director for the last five. George first became active in CAS-CIAC in 1994 when, asContinue Reading

Weather Alters CIAC Track & Boys Tennis Schedules

CHESHIRE, Conn. – The weather forecast of likely thunderstorms has caused schedule changes for CIAC Outdoor Track & Field and Boys Tennis Tournaments. The boys tennis divisional championship matches scheduled to continue today have been postponed until Wednesday beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the same sites. As a result of the change competition in theContinue Reading

CAS-CIAC Adding 10 Inductees To Hall of Honor

CHESHIRE, Conn. – The CAS-CIAC Hall of Honor will add 10 distinguished honorees to its ranks at a ceremony on Thursday, April 11, 2019 at the AquaTurf Club in Southington. The 10 honorees, Jerry Auclair, Bill Baron, Alan Bookman, John Daly, Jean Kenney Daly, Bob Ford, George Ford, Paul Hoey, Pat Llodra, and Barbara StartupContinue Reading

2019 Run To The Sun – Finals Schedule Set – Buy Presale Tickets With No Added Fees

It is that time of year where the best high school basketball teams in the state start looking towards a Run To The Sun. Over three sessions listed below nine champions will be crowned in the pinnacle of high school basketball at Mohegan Sun Arena March 16-17, and tickets for the event are now onContinue Reading

CAS-CIAC 2018-19 Battle of the Fans Winner

CAS-CIAC 2018-19 Battle of the Fans Winner

2018-19 CAS-CIAC Battle of the Fans Winner Congratulations to Immaculate High School Thank you to all the schools that submitted entries for year five of the CAS-CIAC Battle of the Fans.  This event continues to grow and foster the sort of sportsmanship, fan behavior, student leadership and student participation that will make schools, parents, athletes andContinue Reading

CIAC To Honor Seven Individuals At Basketball Dedication Event

CHESHIRE, Conn. – The CIAC will kick-off a weekend of basketball championships culminating the “Run to the Sun” with the 2019 Boys and Girls State Basketball Championships Dedication at The Cabaret Theater at the Mohegan Sun on Saturday March 16. The dedication ceremony on Saturday will begin the weekend of basketball by honoring seven individualsContinue Reading

Weekend Championship Event Schedules Altered By Weather

CHESHIRE, Conn. – Due to the forecast of inclement weather, there have been schedule changes for three CAS-CIAC events originally scheduled for Saturday. The CIAC Gymnastics State Open has been postponed, and will now be held Wednesday, March 6 at New Milford High School. Warmups will begin at 3 p.m. and competition will start at 4 p.m.Continue Reading