Leading off today:
I knew I was going to pick on the NYSPHSAA a little bit today, but I hadn't decided yet just how cheeky I was going to be because of the whole "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" thing.
Each year, the New York State Sportswriters Association selects all-state teams in a handful of sports. And as confident as I am that we generally do a solid job of sifting through the nominations and getting the picks right in our efforts such as the boys and girls basketball teams published in the past two weeks, I also know that there have been times we've botched some of the honors. One girls basketball decision from a few years back comes to mind immediately and will continue to bother me for many more years to come.
In that context, then, I didn't know how hard to hit the New York State Public High School Athletic Association over Tuesday's announcement of its 2016 Hall of Fame induction class.
And then Mark McGuire did it for me in The Daily Gazette on Thursday morning. As McGuire notes, there's something pretty broken in the system when Jim Brown doesn't get inducted into the NYSPHSAA Hall (which was begun in 2003) until the age of 80, half a century after the greatest athlete in state high school sports history retired from the National Football League.
The list of scholastic greats from the state who haven't made the Hall yet is staggering, even when you take into consideration that superstars such as Lew Alcindor and Pearl Washington didn't play for NYSPHSAA schools and would understandably not be considered for induction.
Bob Cousy, Nate Archibald, Julius Erving, Billy Cunningham, Pat Riley, Al and Dick McGuire, and Bernard King are some of the no-brainers in basketball alone. Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg and Whitey Ford are missing in baseball, and Sid Luckman, Mark May and John Mackey are missing in football.
That lengthy list of omissions doesn't even include athletes from Olympic sports or female competitors. Clearly, there's a lot of work left to be done.
McGuire said the NYSPHSAA cited a lack of nominations as the culprit. Believe me, I'm familiar with the concept. The names of two girls basketball players who would have received consideration for all-state recognition this past Tuesday never crossed my desk until 36 hours after the team had been announced.
I'm also not oblivious to the fact that questions of character may have slowed down the process for Brown, perhaps even causing his nomination to be shoved into the persona non grata folder for awhile.
But I think McGuire has the right idea. The NYSPHSAA should assemble a panel charged with actively identifying worthy candidates rather than passively waiting for nominations to materialize.
The rest of the HOF class: Aside from Brown, who dazzled in football, basketball and track at Manhasset in the early 1950s, the other NYSPHSAA Hall of Fame inductees this summer will be:
• Joe Cipp Jr., who started the Bellport football program in 1976 and coached the team to a 211-87-3 record and five Long Island championships, sending 42 players to Division I programs before retiring in 2011.
• John Johnson, who coached boys lacrosse (357-149 record) and girls basketball (218-49) at Canandaigua. He was also defensive coordinator for some of the school's greatest football teams in the 1980s.
• Dave Kelly, who coached Delhi to 272 football victories, including a 34-game win streak in the 1980s. He also coach 19 Section 4 track and field championship teams.
• Nina Van Erk, who rose from a physical education teacher and then AD at Rhinebeck to serve as NYSPHSAA executive director from 2000-12. She was also president of the National Federation of State High School Associations and now serves as Section 8's executive director.
• Missy West, a stellar basketball and softball player at Franklin Academy who scored 2,605 points on the court and threw 15 no-hitters on the diamond. She's now the women's basketball coach at St. Leo University in Florida.
Brown, who lettered in five sports at Manhasset, went on to a legendary career in football and lacrosse at Syracuse University and then with the NFL's Cleveland Browns. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971 and the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1983.
The induction ceremony is set for July 27 during the NYSPHSAA's Central Committee meeting at the Turning Stone Resort.
Executive Committee preview: The Executive Committee of the NYSPHSAA meets Friday in Troy.