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, Syracuse.com 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 Syracuse.com.
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."