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Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019: Changes rippling through Tappan Zee athletic department

   Leading off today: There's stuff going on at Tappan Zee ... and it isn't particularly encouraging news.

   An email sent to the school's coaches Monday stated that AD Keith Johnson "will be taking a leave of absence," The Journal News reported Wednesday. The announcement followed a school board meeting Sunday.

   On Thursday, the paper reported that Gene Kousoulas has stepped down as the school's softball coach on the heels of a 20-2 season and a trip to the Section 1 finals.

   Superintendent Robert Pritchard announced that Mike Gulino was being brought in as a contractor to provide "additional support" to the athletic department. Gulino worked at Byram Hills for 34 years before retiring in 2015. He was the athletic director for the final 14 years of his tenure.

   Johnson came to Tappan Zee in 2017 as the replacement for AD Liam Frawley, who suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm in January 2016 and was unable to resume working.

   The district has not elaborated on Johnson's employment status.    Kousoulas has been a respected coach in the Section 1 softball community, and his departure is a surprise.

   "It was a difficult decision but I can confirm that I have chosen not to coach this upcoming spring," Kousoulas said in a text message to the paper. "Needed to step away due to all the peripheral activity that goes on around coaching."

   More on Tappan Zee: I have no inside knowledge of what's happening at Tappan Zee, but I believe "peripheral activity that goes on around coaching" may be a gentle way of suggesting that players' parents have morphed into a terrorist organization.

   Long Island AD dies: John Corso, athletic director at St. Dominic's since 2010, died of bladder cancer Saturday at age 58.

   "He was everything to St. Dominic's," assistant principal Matt O'Brien said "He was the most influential and positive person you could ever meet. ... He was a man of tremendous faith and had a passion for mentoring the student-athlete."

   The 6-foot-8 Corso led Holy Trinity to three consecutive Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA championships and went on the officiate NCAA basketball games for 25 years and serve as Hofstra's director of men's basketball operations.


   Leach taking the JuCo route: Batavia senior Ray Leach, the record-setting running back who shared the NYSSWA Class B player of the award this past season, will enroll at Erie Community College in the fall.

   Leach rolled up 3,492 all-purpose yards and 51 touchdowns i his senior season.

   Strong takes: A couple of Upstate sports reporters delivered strong takes on two winter sports topics Thursday.

   Justin Ritzel in Auburn took note of my reporting earlier in the week about the possibility of the NYSPHSAA having to go back to 15-minute periods for its hockey tournament later this winter and wondered why we needed to go to 17-minute periods in the first place.

   "I have yet to hear a sensible reason why this change was made in the first place," he wrote. "Does it allow the players to receive a little more playing time? Sure, but that seems a little unnecessary considering high school teams practice every day of the week (aside from Sunday) that a game isn't scheduled; addition- ally, many teams unfortunately don't have the depth in numbers to make ice time a significant problem for the players that have earned it."

   You can read his full column here.

   Meanwhile, Rob Cen- torani in Binghamton would like to see a longer wrestling season.

   Centorani compre- hends the need for some breathing space between the state's dual-meet and individual championships, but he also knows that the wrestling season wraps up in the last weekend of February. Basketball, hockey and bowling are among the sports that extend into mid-March.

   Among Centorani's ideas -- one I've pitched in the past -- is a one-day "super state meet" the week after the individual championships. It would bring together the top four finishers from the Division I and Division II competitions to decide an overall state champ in each weight class.

   You can read his full column here.

   Alumni news: Former Penfield wrestling standout Frankie Gissendanner, a four-time state high school champion, has withdrawn from Rider University after his first semester and will look to start over somewhere else next fall.

   The six-time Section 5 SuperSectional champion was 267-11 in his scholastic career.

   Earlier today: In case you missed it, I previewed tomorrow's NYSPHSAA Executive Committee meeting.

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