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Friday, April 18, 2014: Bid to revive Empire State Games dies

   Leading off today: It's safe to say the Empire States Games are finally, officially dead following reports Thursday that the Rochester-based nonprofit organization attempting to revive the annual amateur sports festival has filed papers beginning the process to disband.

   The Empire State Sports Foundation filed papers in state Supreme Court showing the foundation is insolvent, owing more than $158,000 to multiple creditors after more than two years of trying to revive the event formerly operated by the state. The foundation's motion will be heard in court on May 13 as part of the process required to wind down a nonprofit.

   "It's unfortunate because this was all for the kids," said Vincent Hope, the foundation's president.

   The Empire State Sports Foundation was launched in late 2011 after state budget cuts that year forced the government-funded games into hiatus. Foundation officials said at the time they had secured a 10-year agreement with the state to revive the Olympic-style competition in Rochester July 2013 with private financing.

   However, funding was scarce and the 2013 revival was called off long before serious planning began.

   "Certainly I'm disappointed," Fred Smith, who directed the ESG from 1995 to 2010, told the Democrat and Chronicle. "I know they gave it all that they had. All that it took to put on the games was a bit underrated in terms of how much work had to be done."

   Offshoots of the late-July ESG, including the Empire State Winter Games, Empire State Senior Games and Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged are still active.

   Coming soon: The Times Herald-Record got the jump last week on a story you'll undoubtedly hear much more about in the next two weeks: The New York State Public High School Athletic Association is considering a measure that will force some athletes who transfer from public to private schools to sit out a year.

   Executive Director Robert Zayas said the NYSPHSAA's 22-member executive committee will vote May 2 to decide whether to change the so-called educational hardship waiver, which allows athletes to transfer to private schools to pursue classes such as theology or Advanced Placement courses not offered in their public school. If the rule is revised, students using that transfer waiver would be forced to sit out a year in the sports they played in the past year.

   Zayas told the paper the most transfer requests -- about 175 through February -- this school year have come out of Section 2, with the educational hardship waiver frequently cited as the reason.

   The rule change, which the paper said could go into effect next fall, is not comprehensive with respect to stopping all penalty-free transfers. A student could transfer from a public to private school without sitting out a year by:

    • Using a health and safety waiver, typically covering students who are bullied or affected by their parents' divorce.

    • Transferring to a private school located in their home school district.

    • Switching to a private school at the start of his or her

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freshman year.

    According to the NYSPHSAA handbook, a public school student who transfers without a corresponding change in residence or a waiver is ineligible for one year if he or she participated in that sport during the preceding year. Students who transfer from any school to the public school district of the residence of parents, or other persons with whom the student has resided for at least six months, or a private school within that district's boundaries, are eligible for a one-time exemption.

   Mandatory break in N.J.: Athletes in New Jersey's Big North Conference are getting a nine-day vacation this summer courtesy of a "dead period" approved by the 41-school association.

   The rule makes every conference school designate a nine-day period this summer (between June 9 and Aug. 11 during which there can be no workouts or training conducted by a high school coach with a player from that school.

   The rule's intent is to address time crunch for high school athletes who are often playing for club teams and high school teams simultaneously. The New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association allows coaches and teams to practice whenever they want over the summer.

   "It's important for players to get a mental and physical rest," Paramus Catholic football coach Chris Partridge said. "One of the things we as coaches are responsible for is understanding the physiology of the body and optimizing our young men for performance."

   Some feel the rule doesn't do enough, and at least one school AD favors two separate summer periods with no practice.

   Extra points: Final entry lists for the invitational high school events for next weekend's Penn Relays in Philadelphia have been posted on the meet website.

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