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Tuesday, July 25, 2017: NYSPHSAA approves longer hockey games

   CLAYTON, N.Y. -- Day 1 of the NYSPHSAA Central Committee meetings went longer than we're used to seeing. Soon, so too will hockey games.

   Working more than half an hour past the scheduled conclusion on the first of two scheduled days of meetings, the committee checked numerous items off its to-do list. Adding six minutes to the length of hockey games beginning in the 2018-19 season was among the proposals approved by the governing body of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

   Bringing the NYSPHSAA in line with the National Federation of State High School Associations, the Central Committee approved expanding each regulation period from 15 to 17 minutes, also adjusting the length of penalties. The current 90-second minor penalties will become two-minute infractions. Major penalties will increase to five minutes and misconducts will be 10-minute penalties.

   Conforming to the National Federation rules will allow New York to vie for a seat on the NFHS rules committee in the sport. More significantly, it will -- in theory, anyway -- make teams more reluctant to risk taking minor penalties since killing the final 30 seconds of a shorthanded situation is arguably as tough as killing the first 90 for a team with average depth (or less).

   A pitch from the hockey committee to go to the so-called "2+2" officiating system of two referees and two linesmen on a statewide basis was rejected in the face of concerns that it's not in use in any section thus far.

   The Central Committee has a history of expressing reservations along those lines when it comes to rules changes. On the other hand, they passed a request from the boys volleyball committee to shorten the fifth set in varsity matches to the first team to 15 points from the current first to 25. Section 6 successfully experimented with that NCAA innovation last season.

   Tournament venues approved: Albany's Capital Center (boys volleyball), Ithaca College (girls swimming) and Cold Spring Harbor High School (girls gymnastics) all got the final round of approval for three-year contracts to host state championships beginning in 2018. Their respective sport committees, the NYSPHSAA office staff and the Championship Advisory Committee had already given their approval to all three.

   One of the more interesting tidbits to come out of Tuesday's meeting was a mention by Executive Director Robert Zayas that the NYSPHSAA bidding process, which has resulted in more proposals to host, saved the association $100,000 in the most recent school year. Zayas said executives of other state high school associations have begun reaching out to him to learn more about New York's process, which begins with prospective hosts filling out a lengthy application.

   New football cutoffs: The football committee's proposed new classifications for the 2018 season were approved:

Class Current cutoffs 2018 cutoffs Percent
Class AA 930-over 1025-over 14.90%
Class A 570-929 585-1024 22.83%
Class B 365-569 355-584 22.83%
Class C 240-364 230-354 23.07%
Class D 239-under 229-under 16.34%

   Steve Grandin of the New York State Sportswriters Association churned out a partial list of schools that would be affected if those numbers took effect this fall instead. Most notable is that the 2016 state Class AA tourney finalists at the Carrier Dome -- Troy and Victor -- would both slip down to Class A.

   Also moving down to Class A under the new set of numbers would be these teams from sections that participate in the state tournament: Pittsford, Spring Valley, Clarkstown North, Horseheads, Gates Chili, Warwick/Seward, Horace Greeley, Minisink Valley, Webster Thomas, Williamsville North, Columbia, Churchville-Chili, Auburn, Central Square, Ballston Spa and Niagara-Wheatfield.

   And these Class D teams would be pushed up to Class C:

   Greenwich, Mount Markham, Frankfort-Schuyler, Canajoharie/Fort Plain, Granville, Millbrook, Sidney, Canisteo-Greenwood and Tioga.


   More Tuesday developments: I was surprised at the amount of resistance in the room to allowing transfer students the ability to practice while serving their ineligibility period. That proposal ended up being shot down by a 30-15 margin even though 36 other states allow it.

   Baseball also got pushback on an initiative that's still only in the discussion stages. That sport's sectional coordinators were hoping for buy-in on a package deal -- increasing the regular-season schedule to a maximum of 22 games and instituting a 10-run mercy rule.

   As I suspected, the Central Committee strongly suggested breaking the two pieces apart, which pretty much would doom hopes for adding two games to the schedule.

    • The new pay scale for officials working state championship events the next three school years was approved.

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   Ditto for fixing the girls Class A soccer bracket so that Section 2, 3 and 10 rotate the first round bye in regionals.

   Coming attractions, longer term: I neglected to mention it in my preview Sunday, but the NYSPHSAA is about to do more than just dip a toe into hazing prevention education.

   With bipartisan support shaping up for the Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act of 2017 introduced in the House of Representatives last month, the timing is right.

   Kristen Jadin, the organization's director of special programs, gave a presentation on a course that became available this month at a cost of $100 per school. The 30-minute multimedia presentation is packaged with discussion topics and optional assessments.

    • A reworked version of the NYSPHSAA Hand- book could be ready by the time annual mandatory workshops for ADs begin across the state late next month. The new online treatment is expected to feature better organization, clearer distinctions be- tween NYSPHSAA rules and New York State Education Department regulations and at some point links to brief video clips that will help explain some of the more complicated subject matter.

   Coming attractions, shorter term: Wednesday's session on the shore of the St. Lawrence River begins with cracker barrel meetings in which small groups will brainstorm a few pre-determined topics. The big one on the list is a re-thinking of the philosophy on modified sports. Everything is in play, right down to the possibility of renaming "modified sports" to "middle school athletics."

   The topic is trending in part out of concern that the significantly different rules from what varsity and JV sports use and the shorter seasons may be driving young athletes to club programs outside of the school structure.

   One of the other cracker barrel groups will discuss home-schooled students in high school sports, which the NYSPHSAA has consistently opposed. Home-school advocates have previously pushed a bill through the State Senate, but it's never reached the floor of the Assembly for a vote.

   When the full Central Committee reconvenes later in the morning, the elephant in the room will be the proposed changes to the graduated scale used for determining BEDS numbers and playoff classes for combined teams. I (hopefully) explained the issue in Sunday's blog.

    • The Central Committee will also vote on a proposal to more closely sync modified sports start dates with the JVs and varsity. It would be particularly useful is sports in which modified teams travel to competitions along with the varsity, such as cross country.

    • There's no vote scheduled, but we might get new details on what classification cutoffs for soccer, basketball, baseball and softball could look like beginning a year from now.

    • Possible state-level oversight of sectional decisions on classifying some private and charter school teams will also be aired one more time before presuambly heading for a vote by the Executive Committee this fall.

    • Another discussion item will cover a proposal to allow video replay to resolve appeals at sectional competitive cheer competitions. It's already done at the state meet, and most regions already have the ability to do it at sectionals.

   Assorted meeting leftovers: Spectrum Cable is indeed doing away with its dedicated local sports channels across the state, leaving online streaming as the delivery method for future NYSPHSAA championship telecasts in a variety of sports. The change has no financial impact on the NYSPHSAA since the two parties have five years left on a 10-year agreement.

   NYSPHSAA Assistant Director Todd Nelson reported that some schools are discussing adding cross country and/or expanding basketball to the modified level in their Unified Sports programs.

   Nelson report also noted that the NYSPHSAA has extended its agreement with ImPact for concussion testing for the next two years. ImPact has been an industry leader in the service.

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