Below is Nancy Haggerty’s story on the NYSPHSAA reversing its decision to close the hearing on Section 1’s ban of Kennedy from playing its schools this school year.
The decision to ban Section 1 teams from scheduling games against Kennedy is controversial. It would make it very difficult for Kennedy to fill out its non-league schedule, but the school is being sanctioned for recruiting violations.
In my opinion, the ban is hypocritical. Although it would seem fair for Section 1 to come down on Kennedy for recruiting, what makes the school any different from countless others? Without naming any schools in particular, several prominent Section 1 programs regularly schedule non-league games (and play state playoff games) against opponents who overtly or covertly recruit. That’s especially the case in basketball. I’m not sure what makes those schools’ actions any different than Kennedy, or at least the allegations against Kennedy.
Anyway, here’s Nancy’s story on the decision to open Friday’s hearing:
Reversing its earlier decision, the New York State Public High School Athletic Administration will allow the public to attend Friday’s hearing to determine the legitimacy of Section 1’s ban on Kennedy Catholic High School from playing all member schools this coming school year.
Robert Freeman, longtime head of the state’s Committee on Open Government, had supported The Journal News’s position that the hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m. at NYSPHSAA offices in Latham, should be open under provisions of New York’s Open Meetings Law.
Freeman, who has advised NYSPHAA it may omit all students’ names if students are mentioned as part of the appeal, said the three-member appeal panel was acting “like an appellate court,” meaning only its actual deliberations may be held behind closed doors.
Tuesday, NYSPHAA Executive Director Robert Zayas said the appeal would be open due to its “unique nature.”
Many appeals before NYSPHAA, he explained, involve student eligibility and often include confidential medical and financial data.
In this instance, Kennedy ‘s appealing a decision barring Section 1 schools from playing it due to alleged recruiting violation this past school year.
NYSPHAA bans all recruiting for the purpose of athletic participation.
Neither Kennedy nor Section 1 has revealed what Kennedy allegedly did, although it is believed one complaint involves attempts to attract football players from another school.
After much anticipation, Kennedy, a 30-plus-year member of Section 1, announced last spring that it was leaving to join the Catholic High School Athletic Association.
It had, however, hoped to schedule games with local Section 1 schools via the Friends and Neighbors policy, which allows public sections to partner for games with CHSAA, independent and Public School Athletic League teams.
Friday’s hearing is not expected to be lengthy, with Kennedy and Section 1 limited to one speaker and one 15-minute presentation each, although the panel may also ask questions of both sides.
The panel will consist of a past NYSPHAA president, an executive director from one section and a member of one section’s appeals committee.
No one from Section 1 may serve.
“Only evidence presented previously” will be heard,” said Zayas, who added that the one-speaker limit is intended to stop the proceeding from becoming “convoluted.”
Bobby Maher, a former local principal and superintendent of schools, who served as both Section 1’s and Section 9’s president, expressed disappointment that he and others would not be allowed to speak on Kennedy’s behalf.
He contends Section 1 hasn’t treated the school “fairly” or “consistently.”
But Maher applauded NYSPHAA opening the hearing, saying, “By operating in the shadows, even if it’s not true, it gives the appearance of trying to hide things.”