Leading off today:
I was on the fence until the last minute about traveling from Rochester to Saratoga Springs on Thursday for the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee meeting. The agenda was full of rather run-of-the-mill matters -- not unreasonable after a run of five or six quarterly meetings with multiple complex or controversial topics -- and I'm getting too old to roll out of bed at 4 a.m. to drive four hours.
Still, I made the trip after rationalizing that there was an interview that I wanted to do anyway and there was always the possibility of something interesting arising out of the blue.
For awhile, the best shot at "something interesting" was the power failure that sent the room dark and cut off the air conditioning half an hour into the meeting. As it turns out, however, the day would get much more interesting.
First, a recap of the key votes and actions taken in a meeting that was over in a tidy 2 hours, 45 minutes.
• The proposal to conduct the season-ending New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Federation individual wrestling championships as one tournament was approved. That does away with the dual sets of medals awarded. Instead, the wrestlebacks will now conclude with eight places being awarded rather than six.
• Logistics for the purchases will need to be worked out, but the Executive Committee approved the proposal to require the use of InBody scale systems for wrestling's weight certification program.
• The BEDS data that will determine classification placements for schools in the 2020-21 season was approved.
• Metal cleats were approved for softball, with that sport's committee also getting an OK to extend the abolition of the international tiebreaker to all state tournament games instead of just the final fours.
• Baseball's proposal to make the availability of the 10-run mercy rule permanent (subject to section and league approval) also passed.
• The Mark Twain Golf Course in Section 4 was approved as the host of the next three boys state golf tournaments beginning in 2020.
Also noted during Thursday's session:
• The February 2020 meeting will likely include a vote by the NYSPHSAA to endorse having the Basketball Coaches Association of New York operate the NCAA-approved boys basketball camp for players across the state.
• The organization is in discussions with Spalding on a three-year extension of the exclusive ball contract. However, NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas noted that sales through the third year of the existing five-year deal have not been what Spalding had anticipated, with the consequence being that the equipment company is offering less money than what is now being distributed annually to the 11 sections.
• The ice hockey committee is proposing an addition to the list of what's subject to video replay reviews in the state tournament. If approved early next year, on-ice officials will be able to review whether the puck was kept inside the blue line in certain situations.
Interspersed with all of the above were two interesting discussions, both of which were lengthy and will continue at the sectional level between now and the February meeting -- at which time they'll likely generate more discussions by the Executive Committee, which consists of two representatives from each of the 11 sections.
The first had to do with the most recent financial snapshot, which NYSPHSAA Director of Finance Lisa Hand provides at each quarterly meeting, and the minutes of the most decent audit committee meeting.
Though the NYSPHSAA is on solid ground financially, the latest projection of post-retirement obligations is about $1.5 million. Additionally, auditors have suggested boosting the fund balance to two years of operating expenses -- considered to be a best financial practice.
With that in mind, the NYSPHSAA has proposed increasing annual dues for member schools by $40 a year in each of the next five years. Not factoring in the investment income that could be derived along the way, the dues increase would add at least $450,000 over those five years.
That would do the trick, right? Well, it's not simple.
Section 9 representative Roberta Greene started a discussion on the floor regarding the budgeting process and several cost overruns the NYSPHSAA experienced in the recently concluded fiscal year, the implication being that similar overruns in subsequent years could consume much of the projected dues increase.
Some of the overruns look like one-time hits: More than half the $20,370 miss on marketing expenses is due to bills arriving too late to be handled in the previous budget year, and the departure of a tenant in the NYSPHSAA's office has created a $44,455 miss on revenue on that budget line.
On the other hand, the organization exceeded its $202,500 championship transportation budget by $62,777 and its $67,600 meetings and travel budget by $22,185. Those numbers are going to be more difficult to get under control, and the increases of about 3 and 10 percent, respectively, in the current budget will barely make a dent.
If those budget lines are showing significant overages by the time the May meeting rolls around, I could envision the