Leading off today:
A coach who's probably scrounged up more scholarship money for Section 5 athletes -- often not even his own kids -- than anyone else in the past 20 years, called me over the summer to express concern about how few of his colleagues were aware the new NCAA academic qualifying rules.
From this moment forward, no one has an excuse for not knowing how serious a problem prospective college athletes could be facing in gaining initial eligibility. That's because Donna Ditota of The Post-Standard put it in plain English in a story today.
Here's what we in the news business refer to as the "nut graf" to the story:
"Today, high school athletes need to complete 16 NCAA-approved core courses and achieve a 2.0 grade-point average. By 2016, the grade-point average increases to 2.3 and athletes must finish 10 of those 16 core courses before their senior seasons."
Fall short of those standards and you can still attend college. But forget about being eligible to play as a freshman.
Proponents say the new standards will ensure that athletes are capable of doing college work. Critics worry about students being unable to catch up if they fall behind early in the transition from junior high.
Whereas we've all seen eighth- and ninth-graders who were obviously destined for recruitment by Division I programs, there are also many instances where a player doesn't hit his or her stride on the field or court until a few years later. And those are the ones most at risk.
“It makes it very difficult,” Syracuse Henninger basketball coach Erik Saroney told Ditota. “Because the kid’s got to be on this early and they might not even know they have that kind of (athletic) potential.”
J-Mac, version 2.0: J-Mac is back in an entirely new athletic endeavor: marathon running.
You probably remember Jason McElwain as an international sensation based upon his one-game varsity basketball career. The high-functioning autistic suited up for a game as a senior after serving as the team manager and buried six 3-pointers on his way to 20 points in just a few minutes of action.
Now 23, McElwain ran the Rochester Marathon on Sunday and finished 15th in 3:01.41, which is good enough to gain entry into the Boston Marathon next April.
A bad week on the gridiron: With Elmira Heights Edison and Johnstown having already gone down, Bishop Gibbons became the third varsity football team of the week to drop off the varsity football schedule due to a lack of players.
Gibbons was to have played Cambridge in Week 4 but AD Deb Lauver said on Friday the Golden Knights did not have the necessary 16 players to take on Cambridge.
Gibbons could still return to finish out its season, but Johnston and Edison are done for 2012.