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Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014: Eldred is latest school hit by hazing incidents

   Leading off today: Eldred's football team will forfeit its season-ending game this weekend after a school investigation found multiple incidents of hazing by players, district Superintendent Robert Dufour told the Times Herald-Record.

   The district became aware of hazing allegations, which were sexual in nature, on Monday and began an investigation that uncovered behavior over a three-week period that included some players pushing their genitals into the face of others, the paper reported.

   "Our school district's highest priority is the safety and security of all of our students," Dufour said. "While these acts did not result in any physical harm, they were not harmless in intent. Hazing is not acceptable, will not be tolerated and will be dealt with severely by the district."

   Dufour said the district's investigation is ongoing and improper behavior will be subject to discipline under the district's code of conduct. State Police investigated the incident and no charges were filed, the paper reported.

   On Oct. 17, Monroe-Woodbury canceled its two remaining JV football games because of alleged bullying incidents. M-W interim Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez and Town of Woodbury police continue to investigate the alleged hazing, the paper reported.

   Following up: I don't know that I can add anything to the arguably unprecedented coverage in the Rochester area Tuesday after the announcement that Section 5 had stripped Aquinas of its opening-round football victory against Pittsford, knocking the defending NYSPHSAA Class AA champion out of the post-season.

   As I rolled through the pre-set buttons on my car radio, four of the eight stations I checked were talking about the day's developments at the same time -- and only two of those stations were sports-talk radio. TV stations led the newscasts at 5 and 6 p.m. with the story. By the time 11 p.m. rolled around, at least two of them led with packages of stories from multiple reporters.

   For some perspective, major developments over the weekend in a brewing scandal with the Rochester Housing Authority dominated print and electronic media headlines Sunday and Monday. By mid-day Tuesday, that story might as well have been in the federal witness relocation program, never to be seen again.

   If you need to get up to speed on the Aquinas ruling, centered on the eligibility of star QB Jake Zembiec following his return from an injury:

    • Here's what I blogged Tuesday.
    • The Democrat and Chronicle's Wednesday story.
    • A report from TWC's 24-hour news channel.
    • The statement issued by Aquinas.

    More developments on the story, including possible legal action I suppose, are likely on Wednesday and I unfortunately may not be able to chime in with updates. However, follow the NYSSWA on Twitter and we'll point you to the latest news.

   A side note: The day wasn't a total loss for Aquinas football coach Chris Battaglia. In the midst of the rapidly developing story Tuesday came word that his son had verbally committed to play lacrosse at Penn State down the road.

   C.J. Battaglia is a freshman long-stick midfielder at Webster Thomas this year.

   Don't count them out: To the casual observer, the inclusion of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the NYSSWA girls Class A rankings was a bit off because of the Spartans' 7-10 record to begin the week.

   Given their difficult regular-season schedule and winning tradition, though, the ranking is spot-on. Further evidence came Tuesday when Burnt Hills edged Queensbury 2-1 in the Section 2 semifinals. Converted defender Kylee Babcock and Danielle Sloan scored in the final 13 minutes for the win.

   Nineteenth-ranked Burnt Hills will seek its 10th straight sectional title Saturday vs. top-seeded Scotia-Glenville.

   "We always have a bull's-eye on our back, I think this year it's a little bigger," Burnt Hills coach Brian Bold told The Times Union. "It showed today. We go down a goal, we don't panic, we even it up, we go back to our shape, we football site

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get the go-ahead and we get out of here. It was a little bit nerve-wracking but it was a great match."

   More girls soccer: Makenzie Winslow scored twice, extending her season total to 59 goals, as 12th-ranked Minerva/Newcomb (16-0) edged Moriah 3-2 to advance to the Section 10 Class D championship game.

   Winslow scored goals 9:59 and 16:24 into the first half to wipe out a 1-0 deficit. She then one-timed a feed to Meghan O'Donnell for a score at the 30:15 mark.

   Whitehall update: Hey, Whitehall school board: Are you bleeping kidding us? (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

   Citing emails from school officials, The Post-Star reported that Whitehall football coach Justin Culligan was fired last week for allegedly using profanity after school officials warned coaches this summer that there was a zero-tolerance policy on swearing.

   The board of education voted Oct. 20 to terminate Culligan following a two-hour executive session. That was on the heels of fighting that broke out at the Oct. 18 game between Whitehall and Rensselaer that was ended in the third quarter. Several accounts of the second-quarter fracas indicate Culligan was one of the proverbial "cooler heads" while attempting to restore order. Remember, the overall situation was bad enough that State Police were summoned to assist after the game ended.

   And yet it was his alleged cussing that got Culligan removed from his coaching position.

   The paper reported Superintendent Elizabeth Legault told the school board about her conversation with Culligan after his removal as head coach.

   "He said he did not swear and he would fight this. He said he had no due process," Legault wrote in an email dated Oct. 24.

   The paper said it obtained more than 40 emails about Culligan between board members and the superintendent dating back to July after filing a Freedom of Information Law request.

   There's a lot of background and depth to the story, which is certainly worth a read.

   Growing concern: The Westchester Community College scandal that has seen two former New York high school basketball standouts lose their scholarships after transcript irregularities were uncovered, has other four-year schools going back to make sure their ducks are in a row.

   St. John's University officials confirmed to The Journal News they are reviewing the transcript of forward Keith Thomas, a former WCC athlete, to be sure everything is in order. Thomas played at Yorktown as a junior in 2008-0 and then left, eventually earning a GED degree and later enrolling in the junior college.

   Quinnipiac University officials said former WCC player Giovanni McLean, a Bronx Regional High graduate, was cleared to play a month ago and they had no comment on whether they would review McLean's transcript.

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