There was a conference call this morning between the leaders of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, and there could be some very bad changes coming in the near future for New York State athletics.
NYSPHSAA President began the meeting by asking members of different sections for suggestions as the state is having financial problems, like the Empire State Games, which we wrote about yesterday.
Jen Simmons of Section 1 simply noted that the section has changed the number of contests that will be held in Westchester County and will be using higher seeds to cut down the number of teams that play in the sectional tournaments.
Fred Gula of Section 2 and Dawn Field of Section 3 both had a lot of suggestions.
According to the minutes of the meeting:
Fred Gula - Expressed the need to look at quality and not quantity in the NYSPHSAA Championship events.
He had may suggestions, that many will find disturbing.
His first suggestion was that instead of the four-team format for state tournaments, only two teams should be playing for the championship.
Only the elite should be going to the Championships. Possibly restructure brackets so in team sports only two teams in each class go to the Championships.
This basically puts an emphasis on sectional tournaments and instead of teams from all over New York State going to PAETEC Park for the football semifinals, games would be more regionalized. Currently the final four teams play in Rochester and the finals are played at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
He also suggested using conference calls for NYSPHSAA meetings and eliminating allowing the Executive and Assistant Directors to travel to state events, to save on travel costs.
Individual sports would take the biggest hits.
Gula suggested getting rid of competitor t-shirts for track and cross country athletes and using numbers to go along with their school outfits.
Wrestling teams have worn singlets for each section for years, and Gula has proposed that in order to save money for the sections, wrestlers should wear their own school uniforms. He also says "individual sports" like skiing, swimming, wrestling and track should no longer be competing against schools their own size.
He sees no difference in a small school vs. a large school. For example, a track athlete from a Class D school like Notre Dame should be competing against an athlete from a Class A school like Rush-Henrietta.
He is also against increasing officials but does suggest that there should be investigations by each section.
Field suggested approving cheerleading as a sport, a move which I fully support. In fact, I'm pretty sure we already consider cheerleading a sport in Section 5.
My problem with Field's suggestion is eliminating the open sectional policy. Instead of all-inclusive tournaments for basketball, baseball and softball, she believes the top 40-percent should only be allowed to compete in the sectional tournaments.
Field is also for cutting down on split class tournaments (Class C1 vs. C2), putting a travel cap for teams playing during sectional competition and sharing bus opportunities for longer trips.
Julie Maney of Section 4's main concern was travel costs for officials while Section 5's Rick Admunson suggested the NYSPHSAA take a leadership role and work with school districts to reduce costs. Mark Ward of Section 6 had similar suggestions as Admunson.
Karen Lopez of Section 7 thinks there should be less NYSPHSAA meetings to reduce costs.
Section 8's Mike Mahoney speaks about a tax cap and a cut in preseason scrimmages. He also says that the state should look into reducing the amount of games each team is allowed to play during a season.
Ed Cinelli of Section 11 would like to see the number of classes in the state tournaments reduced to one. That would mean schools like Elba or Oakfield-Alabama would have no shot to beat teams like Aquinas for state titles. He also wants to reduce the number of athletes participating in individual sports and centralizing sites for state championships.
The financial problems are bad enough that Bob Munn, who is in charge of budget and finance, suggests asking congress for a bail out. He would like to see no changes in the state tournaments over the next two years and believes NYSPHSAA meetings should be done via telephone conference calls or web cam meetings.
Others have similar suggestions to ones already mentioned, but Executive Director Nina Van Erk would like to see a reduction in the number of contestants.
Sports with 24 would be reduced to 20; 20 would go down to 18; 18 would go down to 16.
Wrestling and football tournaments would also see reductions in participation.
The committee very much supports a significant reduction in the NYSPHSAA budget.
Committee members will be seeking imput from local sections and looking for more ways to reduce spending.
The next meeting is scheduled for January 20 at 9 a.m., and will be done via conference call.