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Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016: Facing player revolt, St. Joe's appeals suspension

   Leading off today: Apparently, the only thing that gets suspended (and stays suspended) in the Monsignor Martin Association is its games.

   Hours after The Buffalo News reported that St. Joseph's players intended to boycott Saturday's football game in a show of unity with a suspended teammate, school officials relented by promising to appeal the penalty and declaring that Freddie Nixon Jr. would be allowed to play in the interim.

   Nixon was suspended by the MMA for his role -- and we use that term loosely since self-preservation and arguably even a modicum of retaliation in the midst of a pier six donnybrook probably should not be a punishable offense -- in last weekend's second-quarter brawl with Bishop Timon-St. Jude.

   The fight led to the game being suspended and ultimately declared a double forfeit, with the league also handing down punishments to an unspecified number and unidentified group of players. But Freddie Nixon Sr. confirmed to the paper that his son was the only St. Joe's player to receive a suspension.

   St. Joe's officials initially declined to appeal the ruling, but it appears they acquiesced after St. Joe's players handed in the uniforms Thursday in support of Nixon, who they believe was defending himself after he had his helmet ripped off during the fight, the paper reported.

   So Nixon can play until the league considers the appeal on his behalf.

   "We're waiting to hear back from the (MMA) Board of Principals on the status of the request being heard," Kevin Keenan said on behalf of school President Robert Scott. "The game is on."

   Keenan said actions by the players and parents had nothing to do with the abrupt decision to appeal.

   Meanwhile, Timon AD and football coach Charlie Comerford told the paper that his school also is in "the process of appealing" penalties, which means suspended players would be able to participate Saturday in a non-league game vs. Aquinas.

   Meeting preview: The New York State Public High School Athletic Association's Executive Committee meets Wednesday in Troy with a short but significant assortment of items scheduled for votes.

   Chief among them is a request by the wrestling committee to conduct dual-meet championship tournaments in two divisions. As recently as late last winter I had doubts that the sectional coordinators could pull it off, but they moved forward with a highly organized and soundly crafted proposal that did not seem to run into any serious headwinds at the Central Committee meeting in July.

   Significantly, the Championship Philosophy Committee (CPC) and the Championship Advisory Committee (CAC) recently were largely OK with the plan for two 12-team events brought forth by state wrestling coordinator Marty Sherman, though the process for determining at-large berths had not yet been spelled out.

   If approved, the dual-meet tournament would cut into the Union-Endicott Duals' status as somewhat of a de facto championship events. But it would indisputably pump new life into a struggling sport and almost certainly turn a profit at the gate and perhaps make for an attractive TV/cable broadcast.

   If approved, the championships would be slotted into mid- to late-January calendar beginning in 2018.

   The wrestling proposal has been kicked around for years and got back-burnered when the NYSPHSAA declared a freeze on tournament expansions in 2009 out of economic concerns. Also cast aside at that time was a proposal to allow the respective sections to qualify a second relay at all three distances for the indoor track championships.

   With the spacious, state-of-the-art Ocean Breeze Complex on Staten Island set to begin hosting the state meet early next year, the time might be right to add depth to the relays competition. If the proposal passes, the change will go into effect in 2018.

   Bowling and girls golf are also looking to grow.

   The bowling committee has seemingly made a slam-dunk case for expanding to two divisions based on simple math -- the number of schools fielding teams and statistics showing that larger schools consistently crowd smaller counterparts out of the annual NYSPHSAA tournament.

  
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   The CPC and CAC have approved the proposal already, and just about any bowling center big enough to host the current competition would be able to handle the expansion beginning in 2018.

   Meanwhile, the girls golf committee is looking to add some competitors to its state tournament by adding a four-girl team from one school per section, creating a true team championship rather than just section vs. section scoring.

   Since winning teams already account for an average of three girls per section at the individual championship, the addition of a team competition would not expand the field by much.

   As was the case with the other items above, the CPC and CAC are supporting the proposal.

   Somewhat ironically, a proposal that comes with a tiny price tag has faced opposition beginning with a round of questions as the Central Committee meeting over the summer. The boys and girls swimming committees want to present team championship trophies at their state meets as a step toward allowing coaches to become eligible for the David H. Robertson Excellence in Coaching Award presented by the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association each year.

   By making the team scoring retroactive to as far back as records exist, a number of coaches could quickly reach the minimum of five championships required for the NISCA recognition.

   Working against the swim proposal is a question raised in July and then again last month by the CAC about whether crowning a team champion -- including doing so retroactively -- needs to be done for the sake of potentially achieving recognition for an adult.

   It's also worth asking if some of those team "championships" might need to carry an asterisk; you can argue that coaches might have arranged their relay and individual-event lineups differently if they knew bona fide state championships were at stake.

   In any case, the CAC voted 6-2 against the proposal last month.

   One other action item of note: The cheerleading committee is seeking to allow the use of replay at the NYSPHSAA championship tournament to review safety and deduction points during a routine. Since the routines are already being taped anyway, the request would have no cost impact and would likely not lengthen the competition by much -- especially since such an appeal by the coach opens the team to a review of the entire routine, raising the possibility of additional deductions missed in real-time judging.

   Still to come: As usual, the Executive Committee will hear updates and hold discussions on several other topics that will not yet be voted on. I'll circle back to summarize the key topics in the next day or two.


  
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