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Aug. 10, 2016: Is keeping a senior out of the starting lineup 'fire-able' offense?

   Leading off today: Given the number school districts there are in New York, the variety of sports they offer and the multiple levels of competition from varsity down to modified, it's all but certain that the number of men and women whose one-year contacts to coach are not renewed reaches into triple digits each year.

   Not all of those decisions make news locally and fewer still get noted in this blog. The ones that do get acknowledged are generally newsworthy because of the individual's history of success and/or what would seem to be highly unusual circumstances.

   One such instance came the other day when The Journal News reported that three veteran varsity coaches were being let go and a fourth coach had stepped down, the implication seeming to be he saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall.

   On Tuesday, the newspaper followed up with interviews of the men, three of whom had coached at Scarsdale in some capacity for at least 24 years apiece. Last year was the first working under new AD Ray Pappalardi, who arrived after eight years at Edgemont and certainly is entitled -- obligated, actually -- to observe and evaluate the coaches.

   The red flag, however, is that the fired coaches said they were kept in the dark about any changes and that no issues were raised at their end-of-season meetings with school officials.

   And that is what scares so many men and women in the business. There are rules to be followed and lines that cannot be crossed without repercussions. But the other 95 percent of the job starting with offseason training and concluding with the final day of the postseason are a never-ending gray area. There is so much potential for a coach to be operating within the guidelines only to find out -- or never find out -- what he or she was doing at a particular moment in time rubbed someone the wrong way.

   "Being there for many years, we've always tried to maintain our standards," baseball coach David "Doc" Scholl told the paper. "But if something changed with those standards, we should have been told. No one told us anything. I just wanted the opportunity to work on these goals that they have and grow as a professional."

   On the day he was let go, Scholl said that administrators brought up that he did not start all 12th-graders on senior day.

   Said hockey coach Jim Mancuso: "I always try to do things the right way. That was the goal. I was fair to everybody, whether he was the world's leading scorer or some kid on the fifth line. We all follow the same standards and guidelines, otherwise there is chaos."

   Which leads us to this ...

   A call for fair treatment: On Monday, the National High School Basketball Coaches Association released "A Guide to the Fair Treatment of High School Basketball Coaches." The document was sent to the leaders of basketball coaches associations throughout the state and to the leaders of the state athletic associations in all 50 states.

   "Being a scholastic basketball coach nowadays is a multi-faceted challenge. The ground rules and landscape are ever changing," Dave Archer, senior director of operations for the NHSBCA and executive director of the Basketball Coaches Association of New York said in an email accompanying the document. "The pressure, expectations, time commitment and the use of social media are huge challenges for scholastic coaches.

   At the same time we seem to see more high school basketball coaches being fired or not rehired. Some of these actions are surely justified, while others are not. Unfortunately, many times a coach is not provided a reason as to why he or she is not being re-hired. Also, at times the process used to make a decision to not rehire a coach is not as fair and transparent as it could be.

   "We think high school basketball coaches should be treated fairly. We understand that scholastic coaches in most cases are at will employees with no tenure nor job security. We think they still deserve to be treated fairly in regard to their employment."

   The six-page document is posted online.

   It lays out a series of best practices intended to supplement state statutes, local regulations and athletic

  
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association rules, beginning with the hiring process and then with maintaining the working relationship.

   It concludes with a section regarding the handling of terminations. The key bullet points:

    •"Disclose the reason for termination in an exit interview with the coach, specifically providing whether termination was based on failure to meet performance standards, fundamental flaws in ability to foster a positive team environment, off-court infractions unrelated to athletics, or an alternative justifiable basis."

    • "Provide the coach with details regarding any available appeal process or additional steps involved in the termination."

    • "Evaluate and discuss with the coach the possibility of resignation as an alternative to termination."

   Section 5 mourns: Lou Izzo, a youth and scholastic baseball pitching guru in the Rochester area for more than three decades, died this week at the age of 68.

   He'd most recently been the pitching coach at Greece Athena. Izzo was also a co-founder of the Rochester Collegiate Baseball League, a summer league for top-level players in upstate New York.

   "He wasn't just a baseball coach, he was a great people coach," Athena coach Jason Bunting told the Democrat and Chronicle. "He could make kids think so positively about themselves. And that's what coaching is about. If you can make 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds believe they're 'the man,' they end up becoming 'the man.'"

   Parting thought: I've been a casual observer of NBC's broadcast of the Olympics this week. This occurred to me while watching Tuesday's drama in the swimming pool:


  
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