New York State Public High School Athletic Association executive director Robert Zayas was in Syracuse last week pitching reform during a meeting of Section III athletic directors.
Zayas said the organization’s No. 1 initiative is restoring regular season games to multiple sports that were cut in 2009 as cost-saving measures. The cuts amounted to an average about two games in most sports such as lacrosse and basketball, though it could be as many as four games for sports like baseball and hockey.
Since taking over the position in 2012, Zayas said he’s consistently heard from coaches and athletic directors who want the games back. He said just as many school superintendents want the cuts to stay. Zayas said he’d like to find middle ground.
“One of the things I’ve been considering and trying to promote and ask superintendents is, is there a way we can potentially compromise,” Zayas said. “By compromise, can we think about bringing just varsity, two games, in varsity (team) sports back for the 2015-16 school year; and then consider for the 2016-17 school year, bring back all the contests, just at the varsity level. It’s kind of a way to phase it in.
“The reason I wanted to talk this morning was to get your support on this. If it’s going to work, it’s going to be a collaborative effort of the entire state, athletic directors talking to their superintendents and really pushing the issue.”
Westhill High School boys basketball coach Kevin King is among those frustrated by the scheduling cuts. The Warriors were limited to 18 games during the regular season; 16 of them were against league opponents. That left the Warriors with only two slots for outside games. One was used to play Bishop Ludden at Onondaga Community College in one of the best high school basketball events of the season. The other was used to play a team out of New York City that was coached by Westhill graduate Michael King, the coach’s son.
Zayas said he needs six of the 11 sections in New York to vote for the initiative at its summer meeting in Lake Placid to have the initiative ready for the 2015-16 school year. He said there are at least four sections that will likely vote no.
“I’m hoping we can count on Section III to vote favorably,” he said.
Section III executive director John Rathbun said the athletic council will likely discuss its position during a meeting on Thursday. He said his gut feeling is that Section III would likely vote against restoring the games.
Rathbun said his own opinion is that this is mostly being driven by basketball coaches. He hopes there’s perhaps a creative way to add games back just for basketball. He said one idea is reduce the junior varsity schedule by two games and add those two games to the varsity schedule.