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NYSPHSAA votes against adopting rules changes

Proposal to incorporate National Federation of High Schools rules that would have eliminated the shot clock in girls basketball and altered pitching delivery in softball is narrowly defeated.

Northport girls basketball head coach Rich Castellano speaks

Northport girls basketball head coach Rich Castellano speaks to his team between quarters on Jan. 30, 2014.  Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The executive committee of the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association narrowly voted down a proposal to adopt National Federation of High Schools rules that would have affected girls basketball, softball, gymnastics and boys and girls volleyball.

The executive committee, consisting of two representatives, one male and one female, from each of the 11 sections throughout the state, voted 12-10 on Thursday to kill the proposal for the third time in the decade.

Deb Ferry, the director of athletics for the Half Hollow Hills School District, served on the executive committee representing Suffolk’s Section XI.

“Our concern with Thursday’s motion was that our coaches and officials would have had to learn a new set of rules when we believe our existing rules work just fine,” she said. “Our Section XI folks were against any changes. We did not want to go away from the NCAA rules and implement the NFHS rules. We’re staying with what we have.”

Under the current system, girls basketball in New York is aligned with the college rulebook. The biggest change would have been elimination of the shot clock. The majority of Long Island girls basketball coaches were not in favor of any rule changes in the sport.

“I’ve been through it all,” said Rich Castellano, who has coached at Northport for the past 40 years. “I was there when there was no shot clock. Teams would stall and not do anything. It’s a whole different game.”

Nassau girls basketball coordinator TJ Burke was pleased with the outcome, even though the county (Section VIII) voted for the change. “Without a shot clock, man, it would change the game completely,” Burke said. “It would give opportunities to the lesser team to hold the ball and keep a game closer. I think it would take away from the good players.”

Dr. Jim Wright, the director of athletics for the Walt Whitman School District and the Suffolk softball chairman, said he also sat in on Thursday’s meeting as a representative of the New York State Athletic Administrators Association.

“Our sectional rules will not change, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “The motion included a change to the pitching delivery in softball where the pitcher could step back from the rubber and gain momentum moving forward to throw a pitch.

“The current NYSPHSAA/ USA softball rule does not allow a pitcher to step back and gain momentum. They have to keep two feet on the rubber as they come forward. We have the girls’ back foot toe the rubber and the front foot with the heel on the rubber. That rule will stay in place.”

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