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Sunday, July 28, 2019: Previewing this week's NYSPHSAA meeting

   NOTE: This blog was updated at 10:45 a.m. Monday to note Idaho has a comparable weight class in wrestling.

   Leading off today: New York is the only state with a 99-pound weight class in high school wrestling, though Idaho has a 98-pound division. We'll have a better idea soon if and when that distinction will be coming to an end.

   The NYSPHSAA Central Committee holds its annual meeting this week, with the wrestling issue one of the more interesting discussion topics on the agenda because it pits a philosophy that participation should be a goal of high school athletics against practical considerations.

   No vote will take place Tuesday or Wednesday at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, but discussions this week could tell us whether the Executive Committee is likely in October or February to follow the recommendation of sectional wrestling coordinators to eliminate the 99-pound class in dual meets beginning in the 2020-21 season as a two-year experiment. With one significant objective being to reduce the number of forfeits in duals, the 99-pound class would remain intact for individual bracketed tournaments, including the sectional and state tournaments.

   The Press & Sun-Bulletin took a lengthy look as the debate this month, noting compelling cases for keeping or abolishing the division in New York State Public High School Athletic Association competition.

   "There's an argument that all the 99-pounders are classified kids (seventh- or eighth-graders), but there are also many freshman and sophomore who are legitimate 99-pounders. Arguments go both ways," said Section 4 wrestling coordinator Rick Armstrong said.

   One of the arguments in favor of keeping 99-pound competition is that it is an avenue for recruiting and retaining younger competitors in a sport that has certainly had its challenges when it comes to participation. Being able to land a spot on the varsity as a 13- or 14-year-old holds an obvious appeal, but others contend that the modified and JV ranks are the more appropriate venue for junior-high competitors -- particularly in a physically demanding sport.

   Double jeopardy: There is one vote in particular that I'll be most interested in watching this week. When it came up in 2017, the Central Committee voted decisively to continue barring athletes from participating in practice while serving their one-year ban on game participation following a transfer not permitted by the rules.

   I've considered that overly harsh from Day 1. The year of lost game eligibility in cases in which the student doesn't have an approved reason for transferring is pretty severe but not outlandish. But banning them from even practicing alongside the friends and future teammates is unduly punitive.


   This week's proposal would allow athletes at the modified and JV levels to both practice and play. Varsity athletes would still have to sit out a year of games but could practice at their new schools.

   Meeting via teleconference last month, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee voiced support for changing the rule so that athletes can practice while serving the ineligibility period.

   The SAAC consists of two students from each of the 11 NYSPHSAA sections. Here's hoping that the Central Committee, consisting of four adults from each section, sees the wisdom of passing a rule that if nothing else would likely significantly decrease the number of appeals they must process each year.

   Speaking of sitting, the Central Committee will also vote on a rule change dealing with ejections in football.

   Under current rules, an ejection requires a player to sit for the remainder of the contest and all of the next game. The proposal heading for a vote shortens the ban to the remain-

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der of the quarter in which the infraction took place and the next four full quarters of action.

   The rationale is that an ejection early in a game of a sport with a seven- or eight-game regular sea- son amounts to losing a disproportionate percent- age of the season compared to most sports. Sections would be allowed to enforce stricter rules for first-time offenders, and the state rule for repeat offenders would not be affected.

   More football: The vote on football classification cutoffs for the 2020 season was tabled at the May meeting amidst questions including whether the projected numbers of teams per class could reasonably be expected to hold up at a time when eight-man football is cannibalizing Class D and picking up interest in Class C.

   The numbers got a second look from the Championship Advisory Committee last month and will be put forward for a vote by the Central Committee:

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 projected breakdown for the 2020 season would see 70 teams in Class AA, 86 in A, 87 in B, 80 in C and 60 in D.

    • The football committee is also asking for approval of a more detailed policy on combined practices, which are particularly useful for coaches with small squads. Some schools have moved away from scrimmages in favor of combined practices with elements of scrimmages.

   Coaches would be limited to instructing their own players and drills cannot exceed more than seven players per team.

   Adding games: Schools will be adding a game back to their schedules in most sports beginning in 2020-21 if the proposal passes this week.

   It's a compromise toward rolling back rules changes made in 2009 in the aftermath of the recession. At that time, sports with 24-game regular seasons were cut back to 20 and those with 18 to 20 dropped to 16. Basketball lobbied

[ Continued on Page 2 ]

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