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Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013: Court awards fired coach nearly $3.5 million

   Leading off today: A jury on Wednesday awarded nearly $3.5 million to former Newark Valley teacher and field hockey coach Lyndsey Wilcox, agreeing she was improperly fired in connection with sexual misconduct by her former boyfriend, The Press & Sun-Bulletin reported.

   The case before the six-member jury had its roots in a March 2008 lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court. The lawsuit contended Wilcox was improperly fired after being wrongfully accused of failing to report sexual misconduct by Todd Broxmeyer, a private field hockey coach who was convicted of sex offenses in 2009 and was Wilcox's boyfriend at the time. Broxmeyer is serving a 30-year sentence in a Virginia prison for the offenses, which involved girls he coached.

   The jury awarded Wilcox $351,990 for lost wages as well as $2.1 million for future lost earnings and $1 million for mental anguish and emotional distress according to court records.

   “The district is obviously disappointed in the verdict,” Newark Valley Superintendent Ryan Dougherty wrote to the paper in an e-mail. “We are in consultation with our attorneys to discuss the possibility of an appeal.”

   Ronald Benjamin, the attorney for Wilcox, said the verdict reflected the damage done to his client’s reputation.

   Coaching change: Pete Porcelli has replaced second-year coach Chris Lutgens as the head football coach at Hoosic Valley, The Times Union reported.

   Lutgens, employed by a Connecticut company, cited lengthy daily commutes as being the primary factor. He was not on the sidelines for Saturday's loss to Salem.

   "They need someone that is a little more grounded and with more experience. Hoosic Valley is a tough school to coach football," Lutgens told the paper. "I left on good terms with the school. ... I appreciated the opportunity. I am happy to pass the torch to Coach Pete. I wish the team success."

   Porcelli has previously coached at Catholic Central (2000), Lansingburgh (2001-08), Albany (2009, taking over a team on a long losing streak) and Green Tech (2011, launching the varsity team at the charter school). Prior to his arrival at Lansingburgh, the Knights had never won a sectional game. He went 67-19 there with four sectional titles and six straight trips to Section 2 finals.

   Porcelli's overall record is 74-38. Lutgens guided Hoosic Valley to a 1-7 record in 2012 that included two forfeits because of low roster numbers.

   Announcement coming today: Abraham Lincoln guard Isaiah Whitehead will announce his college plans today at 2:30 p.m. after narrowing his list to Indiana, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, St. John's and Seton Hall.

   On the surface, it may surprise some that Syracuse did not make the final cut after being among the first to offer a scholarship and showing high interest since early in Whitehead's PSAL career. However, Post-Standard basketball writer Mike Waters did an excellent job Wednesday in explaining the subtleties of recruiting from both the player and school perspectives.

   Having lost Michael Carter-Williams to the NBA Draft this summer, Coach Jim Boeheim has just one true point guard (incoming freshman Tyler Ennis) this season and doesn't have the luxury of taking on another combo guard at the moment.

   Whitehead's decision to drop Syracuse became easier last month when Kaleb Joseph, a point guard from Cushing Academy in Massachusetts, committed to SU. Unless Ennis turns into a one-and-done (not entirely out of the question, by the way), Whitehead would be looking at limited playing time in 2014-15 at either the point or shooting guard.

   And here's the most fascinating aspect of Whitehead's situation: As Waters notes, none of Whitehead's five finalists were on his top five list six months ago. Yes, the recruiting game can change just that quickly.

   Girls hoops progress: Fordham women's basketball coach Stephanie Gaitley, a veteran coach who's given football site

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Fordham a huge boost, scored big on the recruiting front this week by nailing down a commitment from Aaliyah Jones, the 2013 NYSSWA Class AA player of the year.

   Gaitley has gone 12-18 and 26-9 in her two seasons at Fordham, and now she has a major local talent just about locked up. Jones led Bishop Ford to the Federation Class AA title last March and is following coach Mike Toro to Medgar Evers in the PSAL this season.

   Speaking of choices, South Shore forward Brianna Fraser, who was ninth-team all-state last winter as a sophomore, has committed to Maryland. She was also considering Georgia Tech and St. John’s.

   Fraser averaged 13 points and seven rebounds last season.

   Catching up: I'm a bit frustrated right now because my "real" job has been rather inconvenient (I'm working 9-to-5 Friday through Monday and spending Tuesdays on a combination of freelance stuff and coding up state rankings) when it comes to digging up significant/interesting/oddball nuggets from roundups across the state. Here are a couple from this week that I'm late in acknowledging:

   On Monday, Rosyln scored a 4-3 win over Syosset, snapping the Braves' 48-match winning streak in girls tennis. Kat Changtroraleke's 6-4, 6-4 in third singles was the decider.

   On Tuesday, Orchard Park scored a 2-1 soccer upset of Lancaster, ranked 10th in Class AA boys soccer this week by the NYSSWA. Ryan McMaster scored off a pass from Noah Kohl at 2:40 of the second overtime after Lancaster had drawn even in the last 3:00 of regulation.

   Shoot me a line via e-mail if you run across a newsy item (for example, a coach's 300th career victory) that I might otherwise overlook.

   Rankings progress: The New York State Sportswriters Association debuted its 2013 football rankings Tuesday evening, with Aquinas (Class AA), Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (A), Maine-Endwell (B), Hoosick Falls (C) and Randolph (D) starting off at No. 1.

   Football rankings editor Neil Kerr agonized over the top of a couple of the lists because No. 2 Lawrence could very easily be the top Class A squad in the state and Babylon in Class C is likewise very highly regarded.

   Don't be intimidated by the restraining order Neil has taken out against longtime NYSSWA critic Herb Trout (Editor's note: That's a joke intended for some of our more veteran readers) because he'd enjoy hearing your football feedback via email to his Yahoo account.

   By the way, Aquinas dipped a toe into the deep end of the pool last Friday with a 3-0 win over the highly regarded Canisius team, and it doesn't get any easier whatsoever this week. Youngstown (Ohio) Ursuline, whose quarterback has already committed to Michigan State, comes to Rochester on Saturday. Chris Durkin, listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, was being pursued by several Big Ten schools.

   Extra points: Wayne Central AD Marc Blankenberg has taken over as athletic director at Marcus Whitman.

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