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Tuesday, July 30, 2019: Highlights from Tuesday's NYSPHSAA meeting

   Leading off today: The bigger issues will be settled Wednesday, but the NYSPHSAA Central Committee worked its way through a large portion of the annual meeting's agenda Tuesday at Turning Stone Resort in Verona.

   With the exception of the need to table a vote on the proposed two-year rotation for the girls volleyball first- and second-round tournament pairings, the meeting ran mostly to form. Approval was given to create an Officials Appreciation Day and to change the tie-breaker rules for boys volleyball championships action, adjustments to rules in nine modified sports sailed through and the girls tennis committee got the OK to disqualify players for practicing on match courts on state tournament competition days.

   The Central Committee, consisting of four representatives apiece from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association's 11 sections plus the organization's officers, also approved football's classification cutoffs for the 2020 and '21 seasons but turned down a modification to ejection-triggered suspensions in the sport. That vote by a 26-20 margin thwarted a proposal to have ejected players serve a suspension of the next four quarters of game action rather than the entire next game.

   The football cutoffs vote came after the matter was tabled at the Executive Committee's May meeting.

Class 2018 & '19 cutoffs 2020 & '21 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

   In anticipation of Tuesday's vote, the NYSSWA's Steve Grandin sketched out what would have happened if the newly approved cutoffs took effect this fall instead of in 2020.

   These Class C schools (in order of size) would slide down to Class D, with six Section 2 programs highlighting the list:

   Saranac Lake (assuming there is no merger with another school), Cambridge/Salem, Marcus Whitman, Silver Creek/Forestville, AuSable Valley, Stillwater, Little Falls, Cato-Meridian, Portville, Westmoreland/Oriskany, Canajo- harie/Fort Plain, Granville, Harpursville/Afton, Herkimer, Rensselaer, Hoosic Valley and Sidney.

   These Class B programs would move to Class C:

   Johnstown, Croton-Harmon, Hasting, Livonia, Marcellus, Alden, Albertus Magnus, Blind Brook, Newfane, Oyster Bay, Schuylerville, Eden/North Collins, Babylon, James I. O'Neill, Bishop Kearney/Rochester Prep, Chenango Valley, Windsor, Potsdam/Norwood-Norfolk, Chenango Forks and Cazenovia.

   The these Class A teams would move to Class B:

   Monticello, West Seneca East, Massena, Hendrick Hudson, Valley Stream South, Scotia-Glenville, Clarke, Saugerties and Shoreham-Wading River.

   There would be no Class AA teams dropping to Class A.


   Two of the day's longest discussions came on wrestling and girls volleyball topics.

   The wrestling committee submitted four proposals for discussion with votes projected to come in October. The one drawing the most comments and questions was the proposal to do away with the 99-pound weight class, which isn't recognized by the National Federation of State High School Associations, in dual meets as a two-year experiment.

   The girls volleyball rotation snafu came about when concerns were raised about pairing Sections 2 and 10 in one Class D bracket and Sections 5 and 7 in another. The volleyball committee's desire for equitable competition collided head-on with the Central Committee's concern over long trips that might better be avoided.

   The matter will get a second look Wednesday, mixed in with votes on increasing the maximum number of contests allowed in most sports, softening the current penalty (immediate end to the season) for exceeding the maximum number of contests and tweaking the rules dealing with transfer students currently ineligible to play or practice for a year after changing schools. There will also be a vote on hockey's last-ditch effort to revert to 17-minute periods.

   An observation: The 99-pound weight class proposal has already been discussed to some degree within each section and will now get additional scrutiny ahead of the October vote. Those wanting to preserve it point to the desire to encourage participation, while detractors cite the number of forfeits that occur in that division each season because of small rosters. There are additional arguments supporting either point of view.

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   At one point during the back-and-forth that consumed about 15 minutes there was a bit of a fixation regarding the grade levels of the affected participants, with the implication seeming to be that seventh- through ninth-graders at 99 could participate just as easily at the modified or JV levels.

   That's admittedly a line of thinking that I'd been leaning toward in recent weeks in anticipation of Tuesday's discussion. It was only on my drive home that I came to realize that such an argument might be a bit of a red herring because a good chunk of tough 99-pound prospects would remain on the varsity even if that weight class were to be abolished for duals. There would still be a need for them to fill out the lineup in bracketed tournaments (including sectionals) and more than a few of them would be good enough to compete at 106 in duals even if they were giving away a few pounds to sophomores, juniors and the occasional senior.

   Construction update: ran an interesting story this week on the major overhaul in store for the Carrier Dome, with the highlight being the replacement of the 220-ton, forced-air roof with a fixed structure.

   The key phase of the work will be done after football season with the assistance of an enormous crane with a 500-foot long boom capable of lifting 1,100 tons. The roof replacement will be completed by 2020, along with the addition of a vertically hung scoreboard plus sound and lighting systems. Other upgrades including air conditioning, improved concessions and restrooms are scheduled to be completed by 2022.

   I checked in with Gary VanDerzee, who is the NYSPHSAA's football chairman, and he said he has not been told that there will be any effect on the state high school championship weekend traditionally held at the Carrier Dome.

   Ex-Section 5 athlete killed: Former Romulus three-sport athlete Trevor Irby was one of the three individuals killed in the shootings at the Gilroy Garlic Competition in California on Sunday.

   Irby, 25, was attending the three-day festival with his girlfriend, who was not injured.

   Irby was an accomplished soccer, basketball and baseball player before graduating in 2013. He went on to earn a degree in biology from Keuka College.

   Change of address: Anthony Nicodemo has resigned after 10 seasons as boys basketball coach at Yonkers Saunders to become a coach and athletic director in the Greenburgh-North Castle School District. His appointment is expected to by approved by the school board on Aug. 15.

   Nicodemo steps into a challenging situation. Budget cuts led to the district eliminating sports last school year. Nicodemo expects to begin ramping up the athletic program this fall in anticipation of the district applying to rejoin Section 1 for the 2020-21 school year.

   The Greenburgh-North Castle district includes alternative junior/high schools in Yonkers, Dobbs Ferry, West Harrison and New Windsor. Clark Academy in Dobbs Ferry and Greenburgh Academy in Yonkers have competed in several Section 1 sports in past years.

   Nicodemo's Saunders teams reached back-to-back Section 1 semifinals in 2015-16.

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