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Friday, March 27, 2015: Say what? Sahlen's wants to host football finals

   Leading off today: Oh, to be a fly on the wall Monday just to hear the roar of laughter when the call for a vote is sounded.

   The New York State Public High School Athletic Association's football committee, consisting of the coordinator from each of the 11 sections, meets that morning to discuss annual business, including bids on a contract to host the 2015 and '16 state semifinals as well as the 2016 through '18 finals.

   The deadline to submit proposals was March 16, and Dietz Stadium in Kingston looks like it will remain host of the East semifinals, having submitted the only bid. I'll circle back to the West semifinals candidates in a moment.

   First, though, here's the list of bidders to host the traditional Thanksgiving weekend state finals:

  • The Carrier Dome, Syracuse.
  • Sahlen's Stadium, Rochester.
   Nope, not a typo. The people who cannot remember to paint the yard lines, shovel the snow from the grandstand or change the scoreboard configuration from soccer to football mode at the facility in a blighted neighborhood (see: Nov. 26, 2014, blog), want to wrestle the state football finals away from a domed facility that's home to a Division I university program and was deemed worthy of hosting NCAA basketball playoff action once again this weekend.

   Yep, I can hear the laughter already when that vote gets called.

   Needless to say, the Carrier Dome would seem to be a safe bet to continue hosting.

   The venue decision that will actually have to get made is a recommendation for the next two West semifinals, and that one will be more than mildly interesting since NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas says proposals were received from Sahlen's Stadium, Union-Endicott and Cicero-North Syracuse. Recommendations from the NYSPHSAA office and the football committee -- which may not necessarily match -- go to the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee for consideration May 1.

   Given the many issues with Sahlen's and the lack of interest shown by upstate colleges, the two high school bids have to be taken seriously if it's decided they meet cost and other criteria. Either would be an improvement over East Syracuse Minoa, which in 2011 was the last facility other than Sahlen's to host, though the prestige of the tournament does get dinged a bit by playing at a high school stadium.

   For what it's worth, I have not spoken to any of the sectional football chairmen to see what they're thinking. But I'm sure the decision won't be an easy one.

   N.J. shakeup possible: New Jersey football could be split between public and non-public high schools beginning in 2016. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association's public/non-public committee revealed a recommendation for balancing the football playing field between public and non-public schools, setting up a December vote.


  • 2015 Federation basketball schedule
  • 2015 NYSPHSAA boys basketball brackets
  • 2015 NYSPHSAA girls basketball brackets
  • 2015 NYSPHSAA boys hockey brackets
  • N.Y. wrestling championships (PDF): Div. I | Div. II
  • N.Y. indoor track championships: Boys | Girls

  •    If approved, splitting public and private schools would greatly change New Jersey football and dial down the bickering particularly in North Jersey, where the likes of Don Bosco Prep and Bergen Catholic have few if any friends in the public-school ranks.

       The most recent proposal to separate public and non-public schools -- for all sports -- failed by eight votes in 2007.

       Steroids testing winds down: Texas is all but admitting its steroids testing program for high school sports launched in 2007 is a failure.

       After spending $10 million testing more than 63,000 students to catch just a handful of cheaters, lawmakers there are likely to defund the program this summer. If they do, New Jersey and Illinois will have the only statewide high school steroids testing programs left.

       "I believe we made a huge mistake," said Don Hooton, who started the Taylor Hooton Foundation for steroid abuse education after his son's suicide in 2003 was linked to the drug's use.

       Hooton believes the low number of positive tests doesn't mean Texas athletes are clean, only that they're not getting caught. The first 19,000 tests produced just nine confirmed cases of steroid use, with another 60 protocol violations for skipping the test.

       Don Catlin, who spent years conducting the NCAA's laboratory tests at UCLA, said Texas didn't test for enough drugs in the early years and had gaps in protocols that cheaters could exploit. Testers sometimes lose the element of surprise because they have to tell school officials when they'll be on campus.

       "The program they developed was bound to fail," Catlin said. "I told them years ago to put the money into something else."

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