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Saturday, March 9, 2019: Catching up on some recent headlines

   Leading off today: Catching up on a few stories I haven't had a chance to mention this week ...

   Tanner Scale under fire: What used to be known as Selection Classification was replaced in New York in 2015 by the Athletic Placement Process, an evaluation system for determining whether junior-high athletes are suited for competing on junior varsity and varsity teams.

   The change was the source of some confusion and controversy early on, but I hadn't heard much about it recently until the subject dominated a portion of Tuesday's school board meeting in Skaneateles, where four students were determined to not have reached the physical maturity requirements of JV lacrosse.

   At issue in at least some of the cases is the Tanner Scale, a physical maturity assessment that is one of the components used in the evaluation. The scale defines physical measurements of development based on primary and secondary sex characteristics, and some of the families are disputing its use to the point where litigation is a possibility.

   It's enough of a controversy that the school district has retained an Albany law firm, which had a representative at the meeting. What the families perhaps are not grasping, however, is that the Athletic Placement Process is a New York State Education Department regulation.

   Breaking up: Trumansburg's "Tri-Town" arrangement with Romulus and South Seneca in football appears to be over after three seasons.

   On Monday, Trumansburg's school board ended the partnership in order to shift to an eight-man football program that will compete in Section 4 next fall.

   The South Seneca and Romulus school districts will remain together to field a combined team, an arrangement that began in 2008. Minus Trumansburg, South Seneca Romulus will drop down to Class D.

   Coaching changes: Jason Coffman, a 1992 graduate who played on the school's first varsity lacrosse team, is the new boys coach at Carthage.

   He takes over for 459-game winner Kirk Ventiquattro, who founded the lacrosse program three decades ago. Ventiquattro stepped down after the 2018 season,

   After an All-American career at Division III Salisbury (Md,), Coffman spent a decade as the JV coach and the past five seasons as the varsity assistant.

   "It's bittersweet," Coffman said. "I've been at Carthage for a long time and I was here with Kirk for 18 years. It's one of those things where I was surprised when it happened, but at the same time, I'm excited for a new chapter in my life as well."


    • Tom Etsler, the all-time winningest boys soccer coach at Spencerport with a 254-150-48 mark has resigned, the school announced.

   His Rangers teams won five Section 5 championships in 24 seasons.

   "I look forward to focusing on my family and being able to watch my 2 sons play their sports," he said in a statement released by the school.

   Declining interest: New Jersey is looking for answers in the face of declining attendance both in the regular season and in state tournaments.

   Data from the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association showed a 20 percent drop in attendance in the state soccer finals between 2015 and 2018, and football gate receipts fell off by $100,000 from 2015 to 2017. The dropoff in attendance at basketball group finals from 2017 to 2018 was in excess of 25 percent.

   A format change, including the addition of a girls

tournament, helped wrestling show a substantial increase in attendance, but that has been the exception rather than the rule.

   "I would definitely say, as I have gone around in my 14 years that, yes, our attendance was very good when I first came here," NJSIAA Executive Director Larry White said.

   "We've talked about it at the national level. When we had all the (state association) executive directors meetings in New York, we basically said, 'What are we going to do?' We have to think about it, because obviously, it is our major source of revenue."

   More on attendance: Declining attendance has been a concern in New York at the sectional and state level for at least a couple of years now. Weather and matchups have always been major factors affecting turnstile counts, but the trend has been a downward one in many sports.

   In the fall, football, girls volleyball and field hockey championships were all down by 20 percent or more from a year ago, though cross country and boys soccer posted decent gains. And the winter numbers have a shot at coming in strong, with the crowds for the individual wrestling championships in Albany noticeably larger than last season and boys basketball about to benefit from a Joe Girard III windfall on Friday morning as the curious descend upon Binghamton to check out the leading scorer in state history.

   Texas firestorm: There are few names bigger in the U.S. girls sports coaching ranks than Cathy Self-Morgan, the Duncansville, Texas, mentor with a record of 1,170-287 in her 42-year career.

   Self-Morgan has announced her resignation amidst a firestorm of rumors about alleged illegal recruiting. A school investigation released Thursday found "insufficient credible evidence" to prove wrongdoing, but there are still questions flying around.

   The Dallas Morning News obtained a text message exchange between Self-Morgan and an AAU coach that includes discussion about players potentially joining Duncansville and queries about one player's mother gaining a job in the district.

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