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Sunday, July 2, 2017: Recruiting service reaches settlement with AG's office

   Leading off today: A high school/college recruiting business will pay $20,180 in refunds to customers and restitution to investigators after agreeing to a settlement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, multiple media outlets reported.

   National Scouting Report, which bills itself as "the world's leading authority in recruiting student-athletes to college since 1980," was accused of making false claims about the success of its recruiting programs and failing to deliver promised services by scouts, Schneiderman said in a statement announcing the settlement. The investigation began with a complaint by the parent of a student at St. Edmund Prep in Brooklyn, USA Today reported.

   Under the agreement, Alabama-based NSR agreed to change its advertising and pay back customers in New York. The company's business model has about 150 independent contractors, called scouts, sell packages typically priced at $3,295 to families. Parent-submitted videos of their children are posted on the company's web site, where subscribing college coaches can access the information and evaluate prospects. The attorney general alleged that there was no follow-through by NSR in some cases and calls went unreturned.

   NSR said on its website that 90 percent of customers received offers and 25 percent were placed with Division I schools, a claim which Schneiderman's staff said could not to verified, ESPN reported. The settlement requires NSR, which the attorney general said did not have a business license to operate in New York, to change its advertising and the way it sells to prospective clients. Thursday's announcement said NSR contracts lacked the required notice that allows a three-day period to cancel.

   "Preying on the hopes and aspirations of New York's young, devoted athletes is incredibly cynical," Schneiderman said in the statement Thursday. "Students attempting to use their athletic promise to further their educational opportunities should not have to worry about being exploited by those seeking to make a profit without any consideration for their success."

   NSR President Rusty Rigby said his company agreed to the settlement because it became too expensive to fight the findings.

   "This penalty that I had to pay is very small," Rigby told USA Today. "What I did learn is we are not successful in anything we do because of what it says on the web site. Our web site and social media, we have to be so, so careful. We're dealing with people's children. ... If it's out there, you have to stand by it. To prove those things, we need to have more documentation and to do that, it cost more than we wanted to generate."

   From Sec. 6 to the SEC: Buffalo Health Sciences basketball star Davonte Gaines has accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Tennessee. Gaines, first-team all-state in Class B last season after averaging 17.7 points and 12.1 rebounds for the Section 6 champions, was listed as a junior during the just-concluded school year but has been reclassified as Class of 2019 according to The Buffalo News. (If that's accurate, he may not have eligibility in New York for the 2018-19 season and could be headed to prep school.)

   Gaines, nicknamed "The Ticket," picked the Southeastern Conference school over Rhode Island and a handful of mid-majors. Former Niagara and St. Bonaventure assistant Rob Lanier is on the Vols' staff and made the scholarship offer, the paper reported.

    • Point guard Malik Zachery, 11th-team all-state in Class AA for West Genesee last winter as a senior, will prep for a year at Springfield (Mass.) Commonwealth Academy, reported.


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  •    Softball stars: Five pitchers, including four from NYSPHSAA state champions, have been selected players of the year in softball, the New York State Sportswriters and Coaches Organization for Girls Sports announced Sunday.

       The complete 2017 all-state team can be found here.

       The player of the year honorees are:

    • Class AA: Paige Rauch, Bingham- ton, senior
    • Class A: Emily Hess, Maine-End- well, junior
    • Class B: Lauren Nichols, Solvay, senior
    • Class C: Emily Phelan, Rochester Bishop Kearney, freshman
    • Class D: Makenzie Stiles, Deposit, sophomore
       Rauch and Binghamton reached the NYSPHSAA championship game, losing to East Meadow 1-0. She was the 2016 NYSSCOGS player of the year in Class AA. Stiles was co-player of the year in Class D in both 2015 and '16.

       BH-BL coach retires: Karen Layton, who guided Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake to nine Section 2 girls tennis championships after starting her tenure with a winless 1998 season, has retired from coaching and teaching.

       Layton, whose tennis team appeared in every sectional Class A championship match from 2006 through 2016, also coached the BH-BL field hockey and soccer teams.

       "It's bittersweet," Layton told The Daily Gazette. "I love teaching and I love coaching, but it's time to move on to other things I want to do. My husband is retired, too. I am looking forward it."

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