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Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013: Former Skaneateles QB walks on at Syracuse

   Leading off today: Ex-Skaneateles quarterback Troy Green, presumed to be returning to Central Florida for his sophomore year this fall, instead has decided to walk on at Syracuse University, The Post-Standard reported Wednesday.

   "He's going to do a number of things for us," Orange coach Scott Shafer said. "He's going to add depth. More than anything, it's just great to have him in the program."

   Green, the son of Syracuse All-American Tim Green, redshirted and worked with the scout team at Central Florida. He was a first-team all-state pick in Class C as a senior, throwing for 2,382 yards with 34 touchdowns.

   Clarence supporters chip in: More than 100 donors pieced together nearly $40,000 to give to the Clarence school board Wednesday to restore modified and freshman sports this fall, The Buffalo News reported.

   The effort became necessary when district taxpayers voted down a proposed 9 percent tax hike in May. The $39,000 raised thus far will restore the nine modified sports teams and four freshman teams wiped out in budget cuts. The Clarence School Enrichment Foundation still has to come up with money to cover winter and spring programs that were eliminated.

   Recent deaths: I came across a couple of noteworthy obituaries in the world of New York high school sports in the past few days.

   Anthony “Andy” Spennacchio, a member of the Section 5 basketball and football halls of fame, died on Monday at the age of 84. He was also a stellar baseball pitcher at Madison High, one of only two high school hurlers to earn decisions against future major-league "bonus baby" Johnny Antonelli.

   A knee injury cut short his Michigan State football career, but Spennacchio enrolled at Brockport State, where he was a baseball and basketball standout and filled in for a season as the soccer team's goalkeeper. He went on to serve as the first boys basketball coach at Gates Chili.

   Also, Jack Hynes, who coached Monsignor Farrell boys soccer to a 205-67-21 record in 19 seasons beginning in 1976, died Saturday at the age of 92.

   An enshrinee in the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, Hynes played on the U.S. national team in 1949 and served a Wagner College's first men's coach from 1957-61 in the midst of his nearly 30 years working as a New York City firefighter.

   Hynes started the soccer program at Monsignor Farrell. His teams went 123-15-6 over his final eight seasons, and the team didn't lose a Long Island CHSAA game from 1987 until Hynes’ last season in 1994.

   Troubling precedent? It's understandable that the decision last week in State Supreme Court to grant Orchard Park distance runner David Gorczynski another year of athletic eligibility was lauded in the words of some as a "no-brainer."

   The autistic 20-year-old, who for the past three years has run with cross country team but consistently finished at the back of the pack, will be allowed to participate during his fourth and final year of high school, thanks to Justice John L. Michalski ruling he was entitled to an age waiver for the second consecutive year.

   Under current state guidelines, students whose education has been delayed because of their disabilities can request a waiver to participate an extra year, whether it’s a fifth season or because the student is older than 19, the default cut-off age for sports eligibility. Gorczynski’s mother went to State Supreme Court after her request for an unprecedented second waiver was turned down based on state Education Department regulations.

   Without Friday’s decision, Gorczynski, who turns 21 in January, would not have been eligible this year. Robert M. Bennett, Western New York’s Regent representative, said the board has no plans to protest the ruling.

   “I can tell you the fact that David will be able to run with his team the way he desires but also deserves is a tremendous victory for him, his family, his school and the community,” State Sen. Tim Kennedy told The Buffalo News. “It will have a positive impact for all students across New York State, especially student athletes with disabilities who have been cut out because of this needless and senseless bureaucratic regulation.”

   Kennedy could not be more wrong, but I need to throw in this disclaimer before explaining why:

   I completely support allowing Gorczynski to run, regardless of the fact that he'll be anywhere from one to six years older than the other boys who race. His presence in meets, where only the top five runners per team count in the scoring, and practices negatively impacts no one, and both teammates and opponents have been vocal in their support of the young man.

   Under the circumstances -- the very narrow circumstances -- of his case, barring Gorczynski would have been unnecessarily hurtful. As Orchard Park cross country coach Ted Washburn told the newspaper, Gorczynski's continued participation “represents all that’s

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good about sports.”

   Where Kennedy is wrong, though, is in his declaration that New York's age rule -- a fairly common standard across the country -- is "needless and senseless bureaucratic regulation."

   The case at hand involves distance running, a rigorous discipline but a non-contact sport. Gorczynski, whose disabilities include an orthopedic disorder causing one leg to be shorter than the other, is a danger to neither himself nor to others and would not seem to be at risk for injury inflicted by someone else while running unless Zola Budd suddenly discovers she has high school eligibility remaining.

   But try for a moment to imagine what happens if Kennedy is correct when he says he expects the State Board of Regents to change the regulation in question next month.

   What if the next request for a waiver comes from a 20-year-old football lineman or lacrosse midfielder with neither the physical nor cognitive limitations Gorczynski endures? If his size and skills are even average, be could be a danger to 14-year-old freshmen on the other side of the ball. If his size and skills aren't a match for the competition, there's no place for a coach to hide him on game days or at practice except glued to the bench.

   At least Bennett recognizes the risk. He'd prefer to see the education commissioner be given the authority to grant individual exemptions in cases where safety is not an issue. “My hope is we can allow for some discretion for the commissioner,” he told the paper.

   That would be optimal. Rather than going the "no-brainer" route, we need people to engage their brains before granting waivers. What transpired last week was a good call, but let's not tempt fate be eliminating the process that requires someone to make the call in these situations.

   Emptying the notebook: I've been meaning to mention this in one of the past few blogs, and now I've finally remembered to do so.

   Hardly a week goes by without hearing about a traffic accident or similar incident after which one of the injured was transported to a hospital via a medical evacuation helicopter. Particularly in instances where the injuries are life-threatening and a hospital with advanced emergency-room technology many miles away is required, these helicopter services truly can be life-saving.

   But do you have any idea what the average bill is to transport a patient by helicopter? Well Thomas McGuire does, and when the representative of Pupil Benefits Plan threw out a number last week, there was an audible gasp from several members of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Central Committee during the meeting in Rochester.

   McGuire said the cheapest bill presented to PBP last year for a flight was $29,000. If that number doesn't scare you, then this nugget will: Very few insurance policies automatically cover air transport, and some that do require authorizations (such as from the patient's primary physician within the insurance plan) unlikely to be easily available before the helicopter takes off.

   Why so expensive: Obviously, the helicopter itself is a huge investment, and then it has to be fitted with medical equipment and then kept on 24/7 standby (along with a pilot and medical crew). The mere act of lifting off once the call comes in from first responders runs up a bill of between $10,000 and $15,000. After that there's a rate of anywhere from $100 to $150 per mile.

   So, the next time you see a helicopter called in to help after an injury at a sporting event, you'll know it's a very serious situation.

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