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Thursday, April 10, 2014: Irondequoit lacrosse coach resigns

   Leading off today: Eighth-year Irondequoit boys lacrosse coach Craig Whipple abruptly stepped down Tuesday afternoon, just hours before the team's 7-6 loss to Victor, Rochester-area media reported.

   Whipple was reluctant to provide details Tuesday beyond citing a "philosophical difference," the Democrat and Chronicle reported. AD Anthony Lipani said little beyond he has a "tremendous amount of respect for Whipple."

   On Thursday, the paper reported Whipple was not comfortable -- "I don't want to work with the administration" -- with the demands and conditions of the job. He'd prefer to turn his energy to creating a box lacrosse team in the Rochester area for a league he will help form.

   "I'm sad I had to leave the kids in mid-season, but in order for me and in order for my family to move forward I had to, that's all," he told the paper.

   Whipple was 81-24. The former Rochester Institute of Technology All-American guided the Eagles to four sectional championships.

   First-year junior varsity coach Mark Lovett ran the team during the loss to Victor, which dropped the perennial Section 5 power to 2-3 this spring, and will finish out the season, Lipani said. It was not immediately clear if other members of the coaching staff were leaving.

   "We'll keep playing lacrosse," Lipani told the paper. "There's a tremendous amount of pride, buy-in and commitment. Our kids take lacrosse very seriously."

   So, what's the story? As recently as 20 years ago the number of things that could get a coach sent to the woodshed -- never mind cost him his job -- was approximately equal to the number of fingers on the one hand of a bad woodshop teacher.

   We've all come to learn that the list of potential job-ending mistakes has grown exponentially in the past two decades, and Whipple apparently crossed one of those new lines. In and of itself, the alleged transgression described to me on Wednesday by a source shouldn't have been worth more than a "don't do that again" chat from an administrator, who might have even needed to use the word "please" in the course of the request.

   Whipple's problem, though, is that he already had a target on his back. And -- to the surprise of no one who's paid attention to other hasty departures across the state in recent years -- that target was painted by unhappy parents.

   What started the dust-up? Playing time, naturally. As I understand it, Whipple decided some Irondequoit players weren't demonstrating the same focus and dedication they had previously shown and the coach responded by cutting their playing time.

   That sent the parents scurrying to higher-ups in the district. Given that the AD and superintendent are both former coaches, a complaint about playing time shouldn't have carried much weight. But tack on the aforementioned alleged transgression and now Whipple was going to be made to defend himself.

   I do not know what went on after that juncture, but I'd imagine someone "suggested" to Whipple that he make the problem go away by letting those benched players out of the dog house ... at which point Whipple apparently decided that keeping his integrity was more important than keeping his job.

   NCAA ruling: Syracuse University freshman center Chinonso Obokoh has lost a year of college eligibility because he spent one too many years at Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester in the eyes of the NCAA.

  
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   At the root of the matter is the NCAA's determination that the high school improperly classified Obokoh when he arrived from Nigeria in May 2010, The Post-Standard reported. The school determined he should be classified as a freshman.

   "When he first got here," former Kearney coach Jon Boon said, "he couldn't speak very good English. He learned English by watching TV and movies. He understood it, but his reading wasn't that good."

   Obokoh went on to play three varsity seasons at Kearney, helping the Kings to a win over New Rochelle in the 2013 NYSPHSAA Class AA final in Glens Falls.

   Chris Radford, the NCAA's associate director of public and media relations, said the NCAA Eligibility Center unit handling international students "reviews transcripts to ensure the respective student has graduated with his/her peer class. Any time spent competing in athletics beyond that time, prior to college enrollment, can be subtracted from NCAA eligibility."

   Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said Obokoh did not play organized basketball in Nigeria. Orange coaches learned there would be issues with Obokoh last fall.

   "The NCAA has said, by some magic formula, that this is how Nigerian schools match up with American schools," Boon said. "(Chino) was a very good student and he worked very hard at it. He did everything we asked him to do academically and for them to punish him, that's too bad."

   Obokoh, 20, enrolled at Syracuse last fall and redshirted behind three other SU centers this season.

   Change at Livonia: Livonia assistant John Gammon was appointed the school's varsity football coach at Monday's board of education meeting, The Livingston County News reported.

   He replaces Steve Girolmo, who announced his retirement last month after winning 150 games and three Section 5 titles in 28 seasons.

   Gammon is credited with the revitalization of football at Eastridge, where he won a Section 5 championship in 2004.


  
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