Leading off today:
Though the remainder of the punishment remains intact, Burke Catholic has successfully appealed to have its one-year ban on postseason competition rescinded.
A three-person appeals panel that reviewed documents and heard presentations May 14 voted to remove the ban, it was disclosed Sunday. Eileen Troy, past president of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association; and Ed Stores and Carl Normandin, executive directors of Sections 5 and 10, respectively; were unanimous in their decision.
Burke Catholic was hit with penalties and a "severe censure" in mid-March following allegations of recruiting violations, primarily by an assistant basketball coach. The case had its origin in an investigation by a private law firm retained by five area public school districts. That report was handed over to Section 9, triggering that organization's separate investigation.
Stores said the appeals panel was concerned that the two investigators' reports produced conflicting accounts from the same witnesses.
"The panel felt that instead of solid affidavits you can hang your hat on, they were statements that were contradicted," Stores said. "Of the people interviewed (originally), the Section 9 investigator couldn't reach some of them and some others recanted.
"We looked and said we don't really have enough to justify that ... It came down to a lot of hearsay."
Burke Catholic were pleased by the appeals outcome.
"Over the past year, we have always maintained that any unbiased examination of our athletic or educational programs would only reinforce that the school maintains a high level of integrity and character in our athletic programs," the school said in a statement posted to its website.
"Burke Catholic High School remains a dedicated member of the New York Public High School Athletic Association," the statement continued. "We have, and will continue to, fully uphold its bylaws. In addition, we will continue our self-imposed policy of prohibiting coaches to also coach club sports teams and recommend all Section IX schools follow Burke's lead and voluntarily prohibit the same conduct in their schools."
The Goshen school is still subject to three years of probation beginning July 1 and will be required to report to Section 9 on the admission of students playing boys basketball and financial assistance given to them. Burke Catholic also must develop institutional controls over assistance to students by outside individuals intended to attract transfers.
In addition, Burke must train all its coaches on NYSPHSAA regulations on recruitment and undue influence.
Middletown Superintendent Kenneth Eastwood, whose district undertook the original nine-month investigation of Burke at a reported cost of $18,493.25 that led to the sanctions, remained critical of the school.
"It had been our hope in filing the complaint that Burke would look inward, acknowledge its violation and work closely with Section IX to prevent further violations by their staff," he said in a statement to The Times Herald-Record. "Unfortunately, they chose instead to make unbecoming personal attacks against the complainants and to try to hide behind procedural loopholes. This tactic, which sends the wrong message to students in terms of taking responsibility, unnecessarily extended the process and forced unnecessary legal fees for all concerned."
On his way to L.A.: Aquinas quarterback Jake Zembiec has been invited to participate this weekend in the Elite 11 Quarterback Campetition semifinals in Los Angeles.
The Nike camp/competition showcases QBs in the Class of 2016, and this weekend's top performers will advance to the Elite 11 Finals from July 5-11 at Nike's Beaverton, Ore., headquarters. The full list of invitees had not been released as of late Monday.
Notable Elite 11 alumni include Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, Matt Leinart, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford, Tim Tebow and Jameis Winston.
Zembiec, the NYSSWA's 2013 Class AA player of the year, is a Penn State commit.