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Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015: Susan Wagner varsity, JV football programs suspended

   Leading off today: Susan Wagner High School has called off varsity and junior varsity football practice and games while investigating an alleged hazing incident at a preseason camp, The Advance reported late Tuesday.

   Susan Wagner was scheduled to open its varsity season Saturday at Port Richmond. The JVs were to play Sunday, also at Port Richmond.

   Principal Gary Giordano informed school families that the allegations involve both varsity and JV players and suggested in a letter that parents "who feel that their child was the victim of a crime while away at camp late last month, should report the incident to the Columbia County Sheriff."

   Giordano posted his letter to parents on the school's website. He said the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigations for city schools is probing the incident, and a volunteer coach has been suspended until the outcome of the investigation.

   An Albany source told the New York State Sportswriters Association on Wednesday that at least two elected officials have "taken notice" of the situation. The source said the State Education Department may be asked to examine policies for off-campus camps.

   Administrators were scheduled to meet with players and parents Wednesday morning to discuss the matter. Police officers were seen going into the school and at least three NYPD vehicles were parked in front of the school, The Advance reported. Reporters were not being allowed into the school.

   The parent of one JV player told The Advance he was angered by what happened at Camp Pontiac in Copake, about 130 miles north of Staten Island, and expressed frustration over the school's slow response and the attitude of some other parents.

   "They're trying to say that it's not so serious, that it's horseplay, this goes on in football. No it doesn't!" the unidentified parent told the paper. "Let all these football moms and dads know that your kids could have probably been in harm's way. And you need to find out if they were the victims, or if they were the ones initiating."

   The parent said that his son came home with permanent marker scrawlings on his legs and described hazing and abuse passed down from older players to younger ones.

   "They had a BB gun up there that they were attacking the kids and shooting at kids with. A lot of kids woke up with penises drawn on their faces, neck, head, arms, legs," the parent said. "That's outrageous, and with (permanent) magic markers. These kids were scrubbing the life out of their skin."

   Varsity players involved in the incident required sophomores to target freshmen as an initiation rite, the parent said. Some students allegedly were struck with a broomstick.

   "They were pulling their pants down and rubbing their butts in people's faces while they were asleep," the parent said. "That's so disgusting. And these are minors."

   The Advance broke the story Saturday night of a possible hazing incident.

   In an interview with WABC on Tuesday night, the father of a Susan Wagner JV player produced group chat messages between the football players that read, "Everyone delete the chats," "Don't let this get out" and "Cuz no one snitched last year and worst (sic) ... happened to us."

   Following up: Four of the seven teens charged in the Sayreville, Pa., football locker room hazing and sexual-abuse scandal have pleaded guilty to charges ranging from simple assault to hazing and were sentenced to probation, the Middlesex County prosecutor announced Monday.

   Two other youngsters charged were judged to be delinquent, though not of the most serious charges of sexual assault. A seventh teen's case remains pending. football site

   None of the six defendants will be required to register as a convicted sex offenders, The Daily News reported.

   Class action: If you live outside Section 1, perhaps the story Mike Zacchio wrote in The Journal News about volleyball classification realignments comes off as a little whiny. The truth, though, is that he presented an accurate assessment of what's going to happen when the class cutoffs change for the 2016 season.

   And if you choose to criticize, just remember that comparable issues could soon be coming soon to a sport and section near you. (I've alluded to a basketball problem in a recent blog and will undoubtedly escalate to harping this winter followed by crusading and eventually annoying ...).

   Zacchio reported only Section 1 opposed the statewide NYSPHSAA changes approved earlier this year. A look at the numbers explains why: Section 1 is staring at a very lopsided distribution of teams across the five classes beginning next fall.

   If you apply this year's enrollment data to next year's cutoffs, Class A girls volleyball in Section 1 balloons from 19 teams to 26. Class D falls from 12 teams to seven.

   The reason for the statewide change is to rebalance the allocation of teams so that each of the five classes has 20 percent of the teams (plus or minus a couple of schools. Going from Class AA down to D, the current Section 1 breakdown of schools is a reasonably balanced 15-19-17-16-12. In 2016, it becomes 19-26-17-10-7 if you use the current BEDS data or more likely 19-24-18-10-8 if you "guesstimate" what the new BEDS data will show.

   In either case, Section 1 takes a hit when it comes to balance while Section 5 goes from 47 Class D schools -- which may be a state record for any class in any sport -- to a less preposterous 32 or so in 2016.

   Consider it a necessary evil.

   Extra points: I reported yesterday that Binghamton and Albany are competing with Glens Falls for the right to host the NYSPHSAA boys basketball tournament beginning in 2017. In its story on the subject this morning, The Post-Star reports Glens Falls has submitted a bid to try to reclaim the Federation basketball tournament from Albany's Times Union Center over the same three-year period.

   "It's not a consolation prize if we lose the state boys basketball tournament; we want them both," said Doug Kenyon, director of the NYSPHSAA tournament in Glens Falls.

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