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Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019: Coleman Catholic won't reopen this fall

   Leading off today: Approximately 50 families will be scrambling to make new educational plans for their children this month following an announcement Thursday that John A. Coleman Catholic High School in Ulster County will not reopen for the upcoming school year.

   Bryan Smith, chairman of the school's board, said enrollment last year was down to 82 students in grades 9-12 and the projected number for the upcoming year had slipped below 60.

   "Despite our best efforts, enrollment regrettably decreased and the demands for maintaining an aging facility increased, leading to the unfortunate point where the continued operation of Coleman Catholic is no longer sustainable," Smith wrote in a letter to parents.

   The school's student population peaked at 590 in 1974 and remained above 300 until 1989. With the loss of the county's only Catholic high school, which was founded in 1967, the closest private alternative to Coleman is Our Lady of Lourdes in Poughkeepsie, approximately 25 miles to the south.

   Coaching hire: Dan Salisbury has been appointed as the football coach at Solvay after two seasons there as defensive coordinator. He succeeds Todd Lisi, who left to become the AD at Homer.

   Solvay was 4-4 a year ago but hasn't had a winning season since 2007.

   "I think we'll be very competitive," he said. "We missed the playoffs by a couple of plays last year. Our kids are hungry to get back there."

   College choice: Irvington rising senior Abby Conklin, who was eighth-team all-state last winter in Class B, has committed to the women's basketball program at Fairleigh Dickinson.

   The 5-foot-6 guard was mostly on Division 2 radars while helping lead Irvington to another NYSPHSAA title before a big summer performance in Kentucky caught the eye of new FDU coach Ang Szumilo.

   Coming up: Defending Federation golf champion Luke Sample of Trevor Day School will be part of the field at the New York State Men's Amateur Championship at Crag Burn Golf Club beginning Tuesday.

   The field of 138 competitors will compete over 72 holes of stroke play in the 97th annual event. The final day of play will be 36 holes for the low 40 players and ties.

   Sample, 16, is coming off a successful defense of his State Junior Amateur title in sudden death last month. He recently made a verbal commitment to Duke University.

   The defending State Amateur champ is former Pittsford resident Will Thomson, 18, who was also the runner-up in 2017. You may recall Thomson gained national attention after becoming the youngest player in history to qualify for the U.S. Amateur in 2014 at age 13. He recently finished her first season at the University of Texas.

   Summer basketball: It's pretty apparent that the NCAA's attempt to change some of the dynamics of recruitment in men's basketball didn't accomplish nearly as much as was advertised.

   The new model recently concluded with the NCAA's youth development camps, which were supposed to be opportunities for the very best prospects to be tutored on the court and advised off of it. The NCAA paid airfare for each player and one parent or guardian, provided three meals a day and explained the college-eligibility process. NBA Players Association representatives were also on hand to field questions.

   The problem is that almost no one attending one of the four regional camps could reasonably be projected as surefire NBA material. Actually, most of the participants aren't even rated as top college prospects. Many were mid-majors likely headed for scholarship offers, but not the types of players subject to the illicit offers that caused the NCAA to launch the new initiative.

   Before any of that, though, there were the June camps put in the hands of high school organizations, an arrangement the NCAA made with the National Federation of State High School Associations. The NYSPHSAA and the Basketball Coaches Association of New York took a pass on getting involved this year in large part because the rules were going to require them to exclude players from other sanctioning bodies including the CHSAA and PSAL. Financial concerns were also a significant factor.

   I was among the many people puzzled then when the CHSAA subsequently was able to run its own camp showcasing its players to college recruiters. I finally got insight this week to what happened, and it most definitely was not a case of the CHSAA pulling an end run. Rather, it was a reversal at the national level in a bid to salvage the initiative in several states with concerns like those in New York.

   "I told the PSAL and the other two associations, 'I'm not going to keep you from hosting an event, but just realize we're not hosting one,'" Robert Zayas, executive director of the NYSPHSAA, said this week.


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   The CHSAA got late approval from the NCAA to hold its own event, but it wasn't an imposing task to accommodate players from a couple of dozen schools in a narrow geographic foot- print. Even without being able to accept players from other associations, the NYSPHSAA was going to be looking at serving 786 members schools from Niagara Falls to the Hamptons.

   "Other colleagues of mine, throughout the country, we're estimating it's going to cost 50, 60, a hundred thousand dollars to host two back-to-back camps with the number of teams and officials and facilities and everything like that," Zayas said. "So those are things that we haven't built into the budget that I think would also need to be a concern in the membership."

   It's going to be up to the NYSPHSAA leader- ship to go back to its membership in the coming months to gauge their appetite for getting involved next year, assuming the NFHS relaxes its rules about allowing the CHSAA, PSAL and AIS to participate.

   Meanwhile, the NCAA is going to have to considered whether they're achieving the intended goal.

   Home schools: The Allegany County Board of Legislators recently approved a resolution urging passage of bills in the state Senate and the Assembly that would allow home-schooled students to join school sports teams.

   Proposals along those lines, which the NYSPHSAA has opposed, have been floated in Albany for the last several years but the bills have never gotten out of committee. This past year was no exception.

   The topic came up at this week's NYSPHSAA Central Committee meeting in Verona, where government affairs lobbyist Kevin Banes explained that much of his work this year was meeting newly elected representatives or those moving onto education committees for the first time.

   More from the NYSPHSAA meeting: I blogged summaries after Tuesday and Wednesday's sessions at Turning Stone Resort, but a few other items should rate a mention:

    • The NYSPHSAA and Spalding are about to begin the fourth year of their five-year contract, which means work on a potential extension or setting the table to solicit new bids will likely commence in the upcoming school year. Complaints by coaches about Spalding equipment have not been infrequent, especially as schools aged out old inventory and bought replacements from Spalding, but the money that the state office sends back to the 11 sections is also not insignificant.

    How to move forward figures to be one of the more interesting topics at Executive Committee meetings in the coming months.

    Speaking of equipment, a concern has been raised that there appears to be a shortage of baseballs that would be in compliance with NFHS rules beginning Jan. 1. At that time, all baseballs used in high school competition have to carry a National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment stamp of approval.

    The start date on the rule has already been pushed back once to give schools more time to use existing inventory.

    • Zayas has recently been invited to serve on three NFHS committees, including one tasked with the reviewing the organization's constitution.

    • The New York State Athletic Administrators Association has been running a pilot program in Section 11 to assist in the development of aspiring ADs. The NYSAAA announced Tuesday that it is expanding the program to the rest of the state.

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