CLAYTON, N.Y. -- The annual NYSPHSAA Central Committee meeting wrapped up Wednesday, ahead of schedule and setting the table for a slew of votes this fall at the next Executive Committee meeting as the next batch of proposals exits the discussion stage.
I'm hoping to muster the energy to write a broader assessment of the two days of meetings Friday -- a legitimate Section 1 concern related to the upcoming inaugural state dual-meet championship in wrestling demonstrated that the people in charge have to always be thinking -- but for the moment will keep the focus on Wednesday's developments.
The key vote: As I explained over the weekend in the meeting preview, concern over combined teams had been building, leading to the proposal that was voted on and narrowly approved Wednesday.
I was sure the vote on changing the graduated scale for calculating BEDS figures was going to be the key topic in the two days of meetings. The only surprise in my mind is that all was said and done in just seven minutes. Even with the lengthy discussions that had already taken place at the local and state levels in the past year, I expected one final round of questions and concerns to be aired, perhaps followed by one or two attempts to amend the proposal.
The 24-21 margin in the vote confirmed what had been apparent in May at the final Executive Committee meeting of the school year. Survey results shared at that time showed Sections 1, 2, 9 and 10 had mild or extreme concerns about the formation of combined teams, and they followed up by voting a combined 14-1 in favor of the tougher graduated scale. Sections 3, 5, 8 and 11 saw it as a slight issue or no issue at all and followed through by casting all 16 votes in opposition.
Switching out of what seemed to be their previous takes on the issue, Section 7 supported the changes and Section 6 opposed. Section 4, whose survey responses put them squarely on the fence, cast its four votes in favor of the change and assured passage.
Digging a little deeper: How significantly might the rule change affect the landscape? Let's take a look at 11 combined teams that placed in the top eight of NYSPHSAA in the most recent school year, and what the effect would have been if they were working under the just-approved revision to the graduated scale:
Three Pittsford teams -- the girls lacrosse champions and the runners-up in boys lacrosse and ice hockey -- would not have been affected because the Panthers play in the highest classification in each sport. Ditto for boys Class A lacrosse semifinalist Lakeland/Panas, which played up one notch from where it needed to be this spring. The Mattituck/Southold girls that reached the Class D semis in lacrosse would have barely remained in the smallest class.
There were three combined entities placing in the top eight in cross country. The Harley/Allendale-Columbia girls would have easily remained in Class D, as would have the North Warren/Johnsburg boys. And the Westhill/Bishop Ludden girls could have remained at the low end of Class B.
In football, losing quarterfinalist Roscoe/Downsville/Livingston Manor reached the Class D semifinals. The combination of those three tiny schools would have remained in Class D.
In baseball, losing semifinalist Deposit/Hancock would have stayed in Class D but is another example of collaboration that might have to be reconsidered when the five-class BEDS classification cutoffs next get changed.
And in field hockey, Class C quarterfinalist Pierson/Bridgehampton easily would stay in Class C.
So, was this whole exercise -- the subject of discussion at numerous sectional and state Executive Committee meetings in the past year -- for naught? Hardly. If nothing else, it slams shut a loophole that would allow two mid-sized Class A teams or two in Class B to combine and still not move up a class in the postseason.
Secondly, 10 of the 11 sections (there was no data from Section 4) reported in May a combined 80 sectional team titles -- as opposed to just appearances in the top four spots, etc. -- by hybrid teams over the previous three years. That undoubtedly included instances of teams that squeezed in just beneath the cutoff number.
And then there's the large city districts, which routinely roll three or more schools into combined teams. It's not so much an issue in Rochester, which is rarely competitive in any of those sports, but it's been a source of frustration in the Buffalo and Syracuse areas.