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Saturday, May 7, 2016: NYSPHSAA meeting summary and good news for coach

   Leading off today: There are a lot of days when the men and women in charge of assigning officials to high school sporting events feel like the parent with three kids and two ice cream cones. There's not enough to go around, and someone's going to wind up unhappy.

   Soccer is one of those sports across much of New York, though it's hardly unique. Field hockey and lacrosse are in close to the same boat. In Section 5, finalizing the football schedule each year has become an ordeal. Games suspended on a Friday night due to weather sometimes cannot be completed until Sunday because there are not enough crews to go around.

   "The group of officials from the past 20 years is getting a little older, and we haven't had that influx to take their place," Todd Nelson, assistant director of the NYSPHSAA, told The Daily Gazette. "We do need officials."

   With no prospects for immediate improvement, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association approved some degree of relief Friday when its Executive Committee approved language allowing a single soccer referee to officiate games if both teams agree, clearing up a liability issue that had worried the New York State Soccer Officials Association. It will mostly be a consideration for contests below the varsity level.

   "It's unfortunate there are not enough officials to accommodate," Nelson said. "At the junior varsity and modified level, they're sometimes using one official. Two are always requested, but sometimes the assignor can only get one. We want to get something in writing."

   Jim Gillis, the former Section 2 boys soccer coordinator and Berne-Knox-Westerlo coach, told the paper he has officiated games when no referee was available.

   "In the last three years I probably did 10 games between the modified boys and modified girls," Gillis said. "You can't get enough guys, so you step in."

   More meeting news: The NYSPHSAA gave approval on a slew of other topics at its regularly scheduled meeting, including dividing up the new-look lacrosse championships beginning in 2017.

   The the boys tournament expands to four classes, St. John Fisher College and Cicero-North Syracuse High will split the boys Western semifinals doubleheaders, and Adelphi and the University at Albany will host the Eastern semis. All are on three-year contracts, as are the 2017-19 finals that were OK's for St. John Fisher.

   SUNY Cortland was given a similar three-year contract to continue hosting the girls final four weekend.

   Girls lacrosse also got the OK for enrollment cutoffs that would place 77 to 78 schools in each class:

  • Class A, 1,075 or more students.
  • Class B, 790-1,074.
  • Class C, 475-789.
  • Class D, 474 or fewer students.
   The enrollment cutoff in boys ice hockey was bumped up from 1,100 to 1,000 to even out the number of teams in the two divisions.

   Other action items included:

    • Allowing coaches to instruct their athletes while between greens and tees at the NYSPHSAA girls golf championships.

    • Endorsing USA Football's "Heads Up Tackling" program.

    • Approving format revisions to the state boys and girls tennis tournaments to create Federation finals by moving non-NYSPHSAA entrants to a separate bracket.

   Back on the job: Much-respected Syracuse Corcoran girls basketball coach Jim Marsh says he's ready to return to the sideline after taking a season off while being treated for Stage 4 liver and colon cancer, reported.

   Marsh, who's won 493 games and eight Section 3 titles in 31 seasons, endured three surgeries and extensive chemotherapy. The pathology report on a portion of his liver removed in February showed no living tumors, meaning a diminished possibility of re-occurrence of the disease, the paper reported.

   "A lot of stars had to align for me to be sitting here and having this conversation with you -- and they have," he told

   Marsh approached Corcoran officials about returning as a coach (he's retired from teaching) and got a quick thumbs-up. Chris Lydon coached the varsity through a 3-17 year and happily withdrew from consideration for next season upon learning Marsh was ready to come back.

   Said new AD Jim Palumbo: "I think it's fantastic. It's really a cool story."

   In October, the Corcoran basketball court was dedicated and renamed in Marsh's honor.

   Cooperstown rocked -- twice: Two distinctly different episodes shook up the Cooperstown track and field program this Wednesday, The Daily Star reported.

   AD Mike Cring told the paper Friday that he "removed" Jason Phillips as the boys varsity coach before Wednesday's home meet against Sauquoit Valley and Owen D. Young. Cring did not elaborate on the dismissal of Phillips, a former junior-college national champ in the steeplechase who was in his second season and did not hold a teaching position. School officials said they could not comment on a personnel matter.

   Officials said the school board expects to name an interim boys coach at its meeting Monday.

   Less than an hour into Wednesday's meet, Cooperstown senior Kristin Ratliff collapsed and required medical attention that included the use of a defibrillator at the track and then Bassett Medical Center, where she was put into an induced coma.

   The paper reported Ratliff, a distance runner twice selected all-state in cross country by the NYSSWA, came out of the coma and communicated normally while recovering Thursday.

   Ratcliff reportedly was not competing at the time of her collapse. The remainder of the meet was suspended.

   Appeals rejected: An appeal to the NYSPHSAA by the football programs at Buffalo Bennett and Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake has been rejected, The Buffalo News reported.

   Bennett, slated to field a combined team with Olmstead, Middle College and East High, was appealing the Section 6 decision to place the football team in Class A. MG/CL appealed its assignment to Class B. The two squads played for the sectional Class C championship last fall.

   Bennett's two-class bump was triggered in part by its change in partner schools bumping enrollment up to a Class B status.

   Maple Grove and Chautauqua Lake will now have to decide whether to maintain their combined staff or break and play in Class D and C, respectively.

   College commitment: Tottenville receiver/defensive back Tim Barrow will begin his senior season with a commitment to Rutgers confirmed, The Advance reported. He selected the Scarlet Knights over several other offers, including Boston College.

   Barrow, a 6-foot and 170-pound prospect recruited by defensive assistant Bill Busch, made 18 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns as a junior.

   Police blotter: Former West Genesee football star Naesean Howard, accused of stabbing two former Syracuse University teammates last month, has been indicted on first-degree assault, a Class B felony that carries a prison sentence of 5 to 25 years, Onondaga County assistant DA Michael Manfredi announced Friday.

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