Leading off today:
The Southampton girls basketball team will be on the outside looking in when the Section 11 Class B tournament begins, the latest victim of a clear-as-can-be NYSPHSAA rule
that its members can't seem to follow.
Southampton was ruled ineligible by Section 11 for playing 21 games this season, one more than permitted under New York State Public High School Athletic Association rules. The team went 13-8 this winter.
"Southampton scheduled 21 contests, and you're only allowed to play 20 by state rule," said Tom Combs, the section's executive director"So the season is over."
Southampton AD Darren Phillips, who told Newsday the extra game was an oversight, said the school is appealing the decision to the Section 11 Athletic Council.
"It was just a human error, just something that got overlooked somehow," Phillips said. "The infraction really doesn't impact anything. It doesn't impact the playoffs or standings. It's not like we had an ineligible player. To me, it's an easy fix or correction by not penalizing the kids."
Combs said two versions of the tournament -- with and without Southampton -- were seeded Friday morning. That was a just-in-case exercise that won't be necessary; the NYSPHSAA rule is crystal clear and hasn't been successfully challenged. A proposal to lessen the penalty was voted down last year.
Coach Richard Wingfield said his players are devastated.
"They're broken. They're children," Wingfield said. "They don't understand why they have to be so punished by such a rigorous discipline policy for a mistake that coach made. Then they're sorry for coach because they know that coach wouldn't do anything wrong like that.
Opinion: I'll always feel sorry for the kids who bear the penalty for violations of the rule regarding the maximum number of contests. What I won't do, however, is buy rationalizations along the lines of "It's not like we had an ineligible player" from administrators.
NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas covers the maximum contests rule every single year in the mandatory meetings that his office conducts for athletic directors in each of the state's 11 sections. I've attended the last five or six of those meetings conducted in Section 5 and can practically predict when it's going to come up in the Powerpoint presentation.
I don't know if he'd done it recently, but Zayas used to suggest a foolproof way for ADs to avoid the problem: Hand a printout of the schedule to the coach and have him or her verify the dates and opponents are accurate, then count the number of contests. If you're somehow over the maximum, the time to fix it is before gymnasiums are reserved, referees requested and buses ordered.
It's only one or two of the thousands of teams across the state that violate the rule each year. It's so freaking easy for the number of violations to be zero per year that I'll never support easing the penalty.
Speaking of meetings: The NYSPHSAA's quarterly Executive Committee meeting went according to form Friday morning in Saratoga Springs, adjourning in near-record time to give sectional reps a chance to start for home in the bad weather earlier than usual.
Four three-year bids to host state championships received final approval:
- Sportime in Schenectady, girls tennis, 2020-22.
- Centereach High School, field hockey, 2020-22.
- SRC Arena in Syracuse, dual-meet wrestling, 2021-23.
- Middletown High School in 2021 and '23 and Cicero-North Syracuse in 2022 for track and field.
The NYSPHSAA approved revising the job description of Chris Joyce, director of sales and marketing, who will retain some existing duties but also step into the role of director