Leading off today:
The future of the NYSPHSAA girls soccer tournament is one of the major items to be decided Thursday when the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Executive Committee holds its quarterly meeting in Saratoga Springs.
The girls tournament semifinals and finals have been played since 2006 in Cortland, primarily anchored on the SUNY campus. When the girls state soccer committee met earlier this year, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of awarding Cortland another three-year contract covering 2020 through '22.
However, the NYSPHSAA office staff gave its support to a competing bid from Section 5 that would utilize fields at Webster Thomas, Webster Schroeder and Eastridge high schools. Monroe-Woodbury also submitted a bid, but it will be up to the Executive Committee to decide between Cortland and Section 5, and there will be both financial and philosophical issues on the table.
Financial realities can't be ignored, and the Section 5 bid came in around $10,000 cheaper than the Cortland figure of around $11,500 for the facilities.
On the other hand, one of the goals when it comes to picking championship venues has been to strive for the best possible experience for the competitors and their supporters. While the Section 5 high school facilities are nice, they're nothing extraordinary or on the scale of SUNY Cortland.
Where it gets tricky, however, is that Cortland has had a recent history of needing to make late changes in order to accommodate its own teams in NCAA tournament action. It's why Cortland's proposal includes the use of fields at Tompkins Cortland CC plus Homer and Cortland high schools. The Cortland bid also acknowledges potential schedule conflicts with the SUNY school's football rivalry with Ithaca College in 2020 and '22 which would affect hotel availability.
It will be up to the Executive Committee to decide how much weight to give the issue of uncertain field availability at Cortland.
• The Executive Committee will also vote on boys lacrosse venues for 2020-22, though it will largely be a formality. Hofstra University has consensus support for the finals and the University at Albany (East) and SUNY Cortland (West) were unanimous picks for the semifinals when the state committee met.
Whose rules? The big topic on Thursday's agenda, if for no other reason than it's been discussed at the state and local levels for 18 months now, is the issue of whether New York should abide by National Federation rulebooks in all sports.
Mike Zacchio at The Journal News covered the topic quite well last week in case you're not up to speed on the subject.
Calendar vote: There's an old joke out there about how everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it.
Thursday's vote on the length of sports seasons isn't directly related to weather. In fact, New York's climate conditions make it impossible to smoothe out the lengths of seasons unless educators suddenly express a desire to allow games to be played during and after the June Regents exams.
So here's the stripped down version of what's at stake in Thursday's vote. If the calendar change is approved:
• Fall sports start dates get pushed back a week but championships stay in the same position on the calendar. The exception is football, in which the championships will slide to the week after Thanksgiving weekend.
• The winter season's start would also be pushed back by a week without moving championships off their current blocks on the schedule.
• Spring sports would also start a week later, which is of nearly no consequence to two-thirds of the state since getting out on baseball and softball diamonds on March 10 is often close to impossible.
The original proposal would have tacked an extra week onto the end of the baseball and softball seasons, but the ad hoc committee that's been working on the topic scrapped that in December and now proposes that spring championships stay on their traditional calendar positions, making baseball and softball less likely to overlap with exam week.
Football issues: The football committee has a couple of housekeeping items that will be voted on Thursday, each with major implications.
Firstly, the football committee has proposed new classification cutoffs that would take effect for the 2020 and '21 seasons:
|Class ||Current cutoffs ||Proposed cutoffs|
|Class AA || 1,025-over || 1,025-over |
|Class A || 585-1,024 || 630-1,024 |
|Class B || 355-584 || 397-629 |
|Class C || 230-354 || 261-396 |
|Class D || 229-under || 260-under |
The number of schools per class in any sport can be rather fluid, but it's especially true in football these days because eight-man football has gone from zero teams three years ago to possibly 40 this fall.
The football committee's projection is that Class D would grow from 43 teams to 60 if nothing else changes. If there turns out to be resistance from the Executive Committee on Thursday, it could come from the cutoff number between Classes C and D as the size ratio between the largest and smallest Class D teams gets into uncomfortable territory.
In fact, this could be one of the closer votes of the day.
The other football subject on the agenda for a vote is the adoption of the new seven-year regional rotation. It's usually a cut-and-dried subject for any sport in any given year as the