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Friday, Feb. 2, 2018: NYSPHSAA approves new cutoffs, baseball mercy rule

   Leading off today: The NYSPHSAA Executive Committee approved new classification cutoffs for postseason competition in soccer, basketball, baseball and softball during its meeting Friday in Troy.

   By a margin of 12-10 in a vote by the two representatives from each of the NYSPHSAA's 11 sections, the Executive Committee set the new classification cutoffs effective next fall as:

  • Class AA: 965-up (107 projected schools)
  • Class A: 500-964 (169)
  • Class B: 270-499 (185)
  • Class C: 150-269 (171)
  • Class D: up to 149 (162)
   Sections 1, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 11 favored the proposal over one that would have placed about 158 schools into each of the five classes.

   The numbers had last been overhauled for the 2013-14 school year and have fallen out of the original structure of five approximately equal classes. There are 127 Class AA schools and 189 in Class D in the current school year.

Current Balanced Unbalanced
Class AA 910-up 825-up 965-up
Class A 480-909 440-824 500-964
Class B 280-479 250-439 270-499
Class C 170-279 146-249 150-269
Class D 1-169 1-145 1-149
   The Executive Committee also approved the BEDS report by the State Education Department spelling out enrollment data for the respective schools to be used next school year. Release of the school-by-school numbers is pending a handful of corrections and additions.

   Approval of the new cutoffs and of the BEDS data allows league officials and schools ADs to get to work on fall schedules.

   More decisions: The Executive Committee gave final approval to venues for six sports for future NYSPHSAA championship events. You can catch up on those in our previous blog.

    • The baseball committee won approval for a two-year trial of a mercy rule to be added to state tournament games. The 10-run rule kicks in after 4½ innings. Sections will have the option of adopting the rule for their postseason games and allowing leagues to use it during the regular season.

   Such a rule had been discussed in the past but took on greater urgency with the implementation of pitch-count rules last spring.

   The baseball committee also received an OK to adjust its regional rotation to avoid having sectional champions advance directly to the state semifinals. If Sections 1, 8 & 11 do not have a Class D rep, Sections 2 and 9 would play each other and Sections 7 and 10 would play each other in the quarterfinals. Other sports have made similar adjustments in recent years.

    • The Executive Committee approved placing Utica Academy of Science into the Center State Conference in Section 3. The school has been playing as an independent while unsuccessfully seeking membership in a league. The NYSPHSAA constitution gives the Executive Committee authority to act when a sectional athletic council is unable to place a school.

    • The girls golf committee received approval to allow sections and leagues to determine a method of maximum per-hole scoring and to remove markers from being able to point out rulings during state tournament competition.

   Other meeting notes: Profits from the most recent NYSPHSAA fall championships slipped about 21 percent to $192,065 from the previous year. Weather was an obvious culprit with rain at the football semifinals and snow at the girls soccer final fours in Cortland.

   Football attendance at Union-Endicott was only two-thirds what it was the previous year for semifinals at Cicero-North Syracuse.


    • A court case that the NYSPHSAA found itself ensnared in -- they tend to get sued quite a bit by people who should in fact be aiming their litigation at the New York State Education Department -- ended late last year with a ruling unfavorable to the plaintiff.

   The family of a Horseheads basketball player had sought an additional year of eligibility (see my summary of the filing here) last spring, taking the unusual route of contending in

Federal Court that there had been a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

   Most such cases get filed in State Supreme Court and typically get punted because the plaintiff had not yet exhausted their appeals up to and including the NYSED commissioner.

   The short story (from a long written decision) is that the federal judge had no desire to set a precedent by granting a preliminary injunction in this case.

    • A question about which rule book to follow in girls basketball came up at the Executive Committee's October meeting. At the time, the basketball folks sought approval for some waivers because the NCAA had gone through its annual process of making rules changes -- most of which were irrelevant to high school basketball -- and the season was quickly approaching.

   I sensed then that we had an "uh-oh" moment on our hands, and I was right. The basketball committee was asked why it was abiding by NCAA rules rather the National Federation rules that I think might be in use in every other state in the country. The reasoning behind the question was that there were already so many waivers in place and that the situation was growing worse by the year.

   Well, basketball chairman Tim Lincoln and his committee got their chance to respond Friday, highlighting 28 differences between NCAA and NFHS rules in a thorough yet concise summary. Not insignificantly, Lincoln reported that a survey of girls coach across the state showed an overwhelming preference for sticking with the NCAA rules.

   The issue is heading for additional input at the sectional level followed by another round of discussion at the next Executive Committee meeting in May, at which time all of the sports not using NFHS rules (I think softball and boys and girls volleyball fall under that label) are probably going to have to play some defense.

   Sudden departure: Less than a year after coaching Scarsdale into its first Section 1 boys basketball final in 20 years, Bill Murphy resigned Friday.

   The Journal News reported Murphy, who was in his third season with the Raiders, was suspended for undisclosed reasons and did not coach in Wednesday's 51-49 loss to New Rochelle.

   AD Ray Pappalardi confirmed Murphy's resignation but would not comment further. He said the school district was still in the process of selecting a replacement.

   Scarsdale is 10-7.

   Support for Ward: More than 200 supporters of Rich Ward urged the Marlboro school board to reverse the firing last week of the varsity football coach.

   The board listened quietly as numerous speakers made statements in support of Ward, who an acknowledged making a terse reply to a text from the parent of a JV player.

   Extra points: Section 5 standout Allure Simmons. 12th-team all-state last season in Class AA for Bishop Kearney, has committed to Monmouth University.

   Former Garden City baseball coach Rich Smith, 75, reached a settlement with the district regarding his age-discrimination lawsuit, according to a court filing. Robert Sullivan, the attorney for Smith, declined to reveal the terms of the deal to Newsday.

   Smith was let go after the 2016 season, his 44th as the varsity coach at the school.

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