Garden City football coach David Ettinger will not be suspended for one game but will receive a letter of warning under a Nassau County sportsmanship rule designed to prevent teams from running up the score.
After the Trojans beat previously undefeated MacArthur, 49-6, in a battle for first place in Conference II on Saturday afternoon, Garden City was said to be in violation of the "lopsided scores policy" that has been in place for four years in Nassau County athletics.
The Nassau County rule mandates that the coach of a team that wins by more than 42 points must submit in writing the lengths to which he went to avoid running up the score. If the football committee determines the coach acted inappropriately after a third violation, the coach is suspended for one game.
It was the fourth time this season that Garden City exceeded the 42-point differential. On the first three occasions, the committee believed Ettinger acted appropriately, and no penalty was meted out.
But this time, after the committee determined that more could have been done to avoid the score differential of 43 points, which exceeded the written rule for football, the office of the executive director of Section VIII will send a letter of warning to the Garden City School District because this is Ettinger’s first violation of the rule.
The policy, which was rewritten after Plainedge coach Rob Shaver was the first varsity coach suspended in 2019 for running up the score in a win over South Side, now has a three-step process.
"Our committee went to a three-tier process for violating the score differential in our lopsided scores policy," said Pat Pizzarelli, the executive director for Section VIII athletics. "We wanted to turn the policy into a learning process and not take the coach away from their team after one offense. That first violation is a written warning for the score exceeding the sport’s guidelines."
According to the revised policy, a second violation would result in an immediate suspension, pending an appeal from the coach’s school district. A third violation would result in an immediate suspension with no appeal possible until the incident is ruled upon by the Section VIII competition committee. This may lead to more severe disciplinary action, including suspension for the remainder of the season, and further action also could carry over into subsequent sports seasons.
The Trojans, Newsday’s top-ranked team, beat Baldwin, 50-0, on Sept. 11, shut out Valley Stream Central, 49-0, on Oct. 9 and beat Mepham, 49-0, on Oct. 16.
"Coach Dave Ettinger and his coaches are a quality staff and always do what’s best for their players and what’s best for the game," said Bob Panariello, the director of athletics at Garden City. "It’s an extremely talented group of young men. They’ve proven that they don’t run the score up purposely. I’ve seen them take a knee in the third quarter of games. I’ve seen a backup player run out of bounds inside the 5-yard line to avoid a touchdown. They’re not concerned with records or individual accolades in a team game. They’re not looking to embarrass anybody. They’re just that good.
"As for the Section VIII decision to give Coach Ettinger a warning, we will take that in stride and move on and continue to represent the district and the community in the best way possible."
Garden City led 42-6 early in the fourth quarter when starting quarterback Luke Schmitt threw an 85-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Robert Votruba for the 48-6 lead. Dennis Fargione added the extra-point kick to make it 49-6 with 9:56 left in the game. The long score came on third-and-16 from the Garden City 15-yard line to complete a five-play, 90-yard scoring drive.
Garden City is 68-3 with five straight Nassau Conference II crowns under Ettinger in six years.