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Wednesday, March 22, 2017: Fired Garden City coach alleges age discrimination

   Leading off today: If what's alleged in a federal age-discrimination lawsuit is true, the Garden City Union Free School District is going to have some explaining to do.

   Longtime Garden City baseball coach Rich Smith, 74, filed his suit against the district based on the decision to not renew his contract after the 2016 season, Newsday reported Tuesday. He'd coached there since 1967, the last 44 years as the varsity coach.

   The retired phys ed teacher's record was 667-386-18, making him Long Island's second-winningest coach behind Doug Robins of Levittown Division (695).

   The suit alleges that AD Dawn Cerrone pulled the varsity players out of class one day last spring and brought them to an auditorium where they were separated and had their cell phones taken away. The suit says they were then told to write a critique of their baseball coach -- "write if you think he's too mean, write if you think he's too old, write if you think he makes it no fun."

   The suit says the public release of the statement that "Coach Smith was not being renewed due to extreme and unusual circumstances" was false and harmful to his reputation.

   The last time I looked, you successfully build a case for removal based on the person being "too mean" and/or because "he makes it no fun." But if those in charge planted the "too old" seed while building their case, that's not going to play well on July 20 in Central Islip federal court.

   The suit names Cerrone and Superintendent Robert Feirson as defendants. Monetary damages were not specified. Calls for comment to Feirson and Cerrone were not returned, the paper reported.

   The New York Post reported more than 13,600 people have signed an online petition urging the coach's reinstatement.

   Gatorade award: Albany Academy star Hameir Wright has been selected New York's boys basketball player of the year by Gatorade.

   The 6-foot-8, 205-pound senior forward has led the Cadets to a 15-5 record entering this weekend's Federation Class A semifinal vs. NYSPHSAA champion Irondequoit Wright is averaging 16.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in the encore to the 2015-16 season, in which he was the Federation tournament MVP.

   Wright has not yet announced college plans.

   More than just backfield in motion: Albany Academy, which has been unsuccessful in petitioning Section 2 to move down from Class B to Class C in football, has opted to move its football program out of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, The Times Union reported.

   Instead, the Cadets will compete in the New England Prep League this fall, playing an eight-game regular season with the possibility of one more game in November.

   With no JV program and a projected roster of 20 players this fall, the switch seems prudent.

   "We're excited about it," coach Bo Buran told the paper. "The positive for us is we're playing teams with similar situations."

    • Cohoes did not field a varsity team in 2016 and will not again this fall while continuing to rebuild at the lower levels.

   Fairport coach picked: Scott Fitch, who just coached Fairport to an appearance in the NYSPHSAA boys Class AA final, has been selected for the staff of the 2017 USA Basketball Men's U16 National Team that will play in Argentina late this spring.

   The United States will look to extend its run of four straight gold medals at the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championships from June 14-18 in Argentina. Training camp will take place in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 1-10.

   Eight-time USA Basketball Developmental Coach of the Year Don Showalter, whose U.S. teams have gone 56-0 in various international competitions, will be the head coach. Fitch and Stan Waterman from the Delaware high school ranks will be his assistants.

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