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Nassau high school sports plans to expand lopsided scores policy by September 

Newsday's Jim Baumbach explains how Nassau County high school sports officials hope to have a lopsided scores policy in place for all team sports by September. Credit: Newsday / Jim Baumbach

Nassau County high school sports officials hope to have a lopsided scores policy in place for all team sports by September, according to Dom Vulpis, assistant executive director of the county’s sports oversight group.

Vulpis said a group of athletic directors met this week to draw up the framework for a uniform sportsmanship policy they said is “designed to serve a wider range of players with additional playing time while keeping the league competitive.”

Team sports that would be affected by this policy include football, soccer, field hockey, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, softball and volleyball, he said.

Under the proposal, Vulpis said the coordinators for each team sport would have to determine the specific guidelines for what they would categorize as “an egregious sportsmanship issue involving scoring.”

Any coach whose team then runs afoul of those guidelines would face a penalty procedure that is uniform for all sports. Vulpis described it as a three-strike system that is “progressive in terms of consequences for repeat offenders.” He declined to cite the specific penalty steps, saying the proposal is still needs a series of approvals. Asked if a coach could be suspended under this proposal, he said, “We’re not there yet.”

State officials have said they know of no other area that has a policy that governs how a coach handles playing time in a blowout situation.

Nassau’s push to have a policy for all team sports is inspired by its experiment with a lopsided score policy in football, in place since 2017. That came about after superintendents expressed a desire to decrease the number of blowouts between mismatched teams.

Football’s policy mandated that coaches who win by more than 42 points must explain to a committee what they did to keep the score more respectable. The committee would then determine if the coach acted appropriately or if the coach should be penalized.

Plainedge’s Rob Shaver became the first coach suspended under the policy in October following a 61-13 win because the six-person committee believed he didn’t manage the game properly by keeping his starters in the game in the fourth quarter.

Nassau high school sports officials cited the drop in games decided by more than 42 points as how the policy has been successful. They have since reshaped the goal of the policy, saying its primary goal is to encourage them to use large score differentials as an opportunity to spread playing time because this “education-based athletics.”

“What we’re trying to enforce is sportsmanship within the realm of keeping an eye on the score, because we believe this will serve a greater range of players by giving them more playing time,” Vulpis said.

The proposal needs to be approved by the county’s athletic directors Feb. 5 and the county’s athletic council Feb. 26.

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