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Friday, Oct. 9, 2015: Newsday finds 885 'low-performing' football helmets on L.I.

   Leading off today: Newsday published the results of a seven-month investigation this week that analyzed concussion reports from 104 of the 116 schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties and helmet inventories from 108 schools.

   The paper found there were 885 football helmets in circulation before this season that are classified as "low performers" at reducing the risk of concussion, according to safety ratings that Virginia Tech researchers have been publishing since 2011. More than half the schools reported have helmets rated at one or two stars on a five-star scale.

   In response to Newsday's inquiries, 18 schools said they either removed those helmets from their inventories or did not issue them this season. New Hyde Park reported 71 one-star helmets in its inventory, though the equipment meets standards set by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE), which oversees helmet use in football on all levels. The district purchased 160 five-star helmets this month at a cost of $38,400, a district spokeswoman said.

   Just over 30 percent of the 9,502 helmets inventoried were rated five stars and another 48 percent were rated four stars. Schools buy an average of about 10 new helmets per year according to purchase orders obtained by the paper.

   Oyster Bay and Port Jefferson replaced their inventories with all new five-star helmets at a combined cost of $48,664 after the death of Shoreham-Wading River junior Thomas Cutinella following a helmet-to-helmet hit last year. Northport is the only other school with all five-star helmets.

   The paper also found 364 reported concussions during practices or games last season at districts covering 88 public high schools and two private schools.

   Wednesday's story by Jim Baumbach is quite an effort and worth your time if you have an interest in football safety.

   Scary police blotter news: If last week's story about 40 Queensbury student-athletes being suspended for participating in underage drinking parties rattled you, then today's report will absolutely scare you.

   Four student-athletes at Central Valley Academy in Ilion were caught using cocaine on school property this week, the school reported on its website. The school did not identify the students or state what sports they play.

   Superintendent Rich Hughes said the district notified Ilion police, who are continuing their investigation.

   The school said the students were disciplined in accordance with school policy.

   Central Valley Academy was formed in a merger of the Ilion and Mohawk school districts.

   New Jersey proposal: A New Jersey state senator says he will introduce a bill next month in hopes of ending the practice of redshirting by junior-high athletes.

   Essex County Democrat Richard Codey wants to eliminate the practice of middle schoolers repeating a grade football site

in order to gain an athletic advantage once they reach high school. His proposal would limit students who repeat grades six through eight despite being in good academic standing to three years of eligibility at any level once they reach ninth grade -- in essence taking away their senior year in sports.

   "I always thought this was out of control, and I decided that someone has to say and do something," Codey told "We have the right cast of people behind it, too. Based on all the phone calls we have been getting and the interest that we've seen, we've hit a nerve. We've gotten phone calls from parents whose kids are wrestling against kids a year older than they are, and it's a huge disadvantage."

   ICYMI: I blogged earlier today about developments with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association boys basketball tournament, specifically a recommendation that the process for awarding the 2017-19 events be re-started from scratch because of problems at the Sept. 25 meeting that saw Glens Falls retain the tournament.

   As an addendum, outdoor track and field has fallen under the same recommendation to start over based on a delay that has postponed until Dec. 8 the committee meeting that will award the 2017 and 2019 meets.

   Extra points: Doug Kessler, a Pittsford teacher who founded the Monroe County Ski League and served as the Section 5 chairman in the formative years of the sport, died Wednesday at the age of 83. He founded the Colonial Mountaineers Ski Club for high school students, making their first nordic equipment by screwing sneakers to skis.

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