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Could NYSPHSAA grow its way out of public vs. private issue?

   VERONA, N.Y. (Tuesday, July 26, 2016) --

   (Editor's note: This blog was updated several times to add new details and expand upon existing info. This final write-thru was posted at 9:30 p.m.)

   The latest ideas for dealing with private and charter schools in high school sports include having the NYSPHSAA move its non-public members into one or two newly created sections, leaving the existing 11 sections as the exclusive domain of public schools before bringing all parties together in the state playoffs.

   The concept offers something to both sides in a dispute being played out in numerous states across the country. Public schools would gain long-sought separation from rivals they scoff at for their ability to enroll students from wider geographic areas, and non-public and private schools could still compete in the postseason -- in many cases with an easier path into state competitions.

   The idea, still in its nascent stages, was sketched out during a meeting held last week and was disclosed to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association membership during its annual Central Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon.

   Last week's meeting in Saratoga Springs also included discussion of a previously suggested concept of parallel tournaments -- non-public and charters would conduct their postseasons separate from the rest of the NYSPHSAA.

   Two sources indicated a willingness by representatives in the room to consider the addition of sections, but the parallel tournaments idea has more support at this juncture -- though also a raft load of concerns. Section 5, ground zero for much of the most recent public vs. private acrimony, studied and then abandoned a parallel tournaments plan last year. The NYSPHSAA's venture into the topic is so preliminary that there's not even consensus on whether public and private/charter champions would compete for overall titles at the end of the season.

   "There are no easy answers and not one simple solution," NYSPHSAA President Steve Broadwell said in his opening remarks Tuesday. "It's just not going to happen (easily)."

   The NYSPHSAA is looking for all viable options, particularly because the previously intriguing "enrollment multiplier" -- adjusting BEDS figures for non-public and charter schools upwards -- is no longer under consideration.

   Reached by phone, Aquinas President Mike Daley said he would be interested in seeing more details.

   We're members of the state association and the section," he said. "We're very happy with Section 5 and willing to look. If whatever gets decided makes sense to all ... we'd certainly look at any and all ideas to address a perceived problem."

   A statistical analysis distribued at the Saratoga Springs meeting showed that non-public and charter schools comprise 9.31 percent of the NYSPHSAA membership. From 2008-16, those schools captured 6.53 percent of team championships and 4.74 percent of individual titles.

   If chosen as the solution to the ongoing issue, either parallel tournaments or sectional expansion would require much work. From the word go, for instance, there will likely be resistance from charter schools. Broadwell warned that litigation by member schools and elected officials getting involved were realistic possibilities resulting from any change.

   "There are so many people uninformed on charter schools," said Joe Munno, a veteran Rochester City School District administrator and coach who is now president of University Prep in that city. "They group us with the private schools, but it's not accurate. We have rules and restrictions that people don't understand about who we can take."

   The approval and then rollout of two new sections seemingly might require three years or longer to fully implement if chosen as the solution.

   Speaking at Tuesday's meeting, Broadwell unveiled some of the details of last week's NYSPHSAA Membership Committee meeting, also attended by Executive Director Robert Zayas and representatives from each section. The meeting included two representatives from private schools, one from a charter school, a slew of other NYSPHSAA officials and Davis Whitfield, chief operating officer of the National Federation of State High School Associations.

   (As aside: New York certainly has the attention of high school bodies across the country. Zayas said Whitfield and Bernard Childress, executive director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, traveled to the meeting at their own expense.)

   As a result of last week's meeting, two committees are being formed. One will be charged with developing a plan for overseeing non-public and charter schools at the state level for the purpose of assigning them to appropriate

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tournament classifications -- currently a responsibility handled at the sectional level. It's not immediately clear whether that would become the decision-making body or, in Broadwell's words, "a second set of eyes."

   The second committee will continue to brainstorm options for public/private retooling, including examining the feasibility of adding either one new section to host all the non-public and charter members or two that would encompass the eastern and western portions of the state.

   How it might work: Any discussion of expanding by two sections is obviously way, way, way premature, which has never stopped us from exploring and speculating anyway.

   At the present time 73 of the 784 NYSPHSAA high school members are non-publics or charters. Separating them from the public schools would presumably result in two new sections with roughly 35-40 members apiece. For the sake of comparison, Sections 7 and 10 have 25 and 24 high schools, respectively. The next smallest are Section 9 (47), Section 8 (57) and Section 11 (61).

   Once all the approvals are in place, Step 1 would seemingly be to create administrative structures for Sections 12 and 13 comparable to what existing sections have -- an Athletic Council, Executive Committee, executive director and coordinators/committees to run the individual sports.

   By virtue of their status as Sections 12 and 13, the non-public and charter schools would hold championships at the end of each sports season and advance team and/or individual representatives to the NYSPHSAA championships.

   The adjustment would be seamless in most sports. One- and two-day competitions held at a single site, such as cross country, track and bowling can generally absorb additional entries without issue.

   Most team sports, such as soccer and baseball, already play down to a champion by means of four rounds of contests. The prequarterfinal round generally consists of between one and three games to get the field down to eight, so the addition of two more sections and the corresponding two more first-round games is easy.

   One half of the bracket in tournaments such as lacrosse might consist of Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 and 12. The other half would be comprised of champions from Sections 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 13. Rotations would be worked out on a sport-by-sport basis to determine host sections and first-round byes.

   However, football would loom as a potential trouble spot. Its five classes in the state tournament only fit neatly into a three-game, three-week window because sparsely populated Sections 7 and 10 play down to a single rep in Week 10 (while sectional finals are conducted elsewhere in the state) and the two Long Island sections do not participate.

   Adding two more teams to classes could mean shortening the regular season, reducing sectional field to four teams per class or adding a 14th week to the schedule. All the options would be met with at least some resistance.

   Coming Wednesday: I'll hopefully file an analysis and some leftovers before Day 2 of the Central Committee meeting starts Wednesday morning.

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