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Court upholds Skaneateles football program suspension

Lakers prohibited from play in sectional final game

Skaneateles School Superintendent Phil D'Angelo talks to reporters outside the courtroom after Justice Brian DeJoseph ruled against the district's petition for an injunction.

Skaneateles School Superintendent Phil D'Angelo talks to reporters outside the courtroom after Justice Brian DeJoseph ruled against the district's petition for an injunction. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— A state supreme court judge this morning upheld the suspension of the Skaneateles varsity football program and refused to grant the school district an injunction that would have allowed the Lakers to play in the sectional final game this Saturday.

Declaring the suspension an appropriate penalty against the school district as determined by Section III, New York State Supreme Court Justice Brian F. DeJoseph said, “The court is well aware of the effect this has on the student athletes, [nevertheless,] the determination of the [Section III] Athletic Council is final.”

The decision leaves the Skaneateles CSD with no appeal options in Section III or in the NYS High School Athletic Association. The district can appeal to the state appellate court in Rochester.

After the hearing, Skaneateles School Superintendent Phil D’Angelo said he had called the school board president, Evan Dreyfuss, moments before, and Dreyfuss immediately began contacting every board member by telephone to poll the board on whether or not the district should seek an appeal.

“We were very disappointed by what we heard here today,” D’Angelo told reporters outside the courtroom. “We truly felt the punishment was way too severe. The athletes are being punished, not the program.”

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Skaneateles school attorney Thomas Seeley, left, superintendent Phil D'Angelo, center, and attorney Dennis O'Hara, right, confer while Judge DeJoseph called a recess before issuing his decision on the case.

Today’s hearing was the culmination of events that began last week after the Skaneateles CSD filed a report to Section III Athletics stating that an investigation had revealed five specific instances of illegal player recruiting and undue influence by members of the varsity football coaching staff. The Section III Athletic Council responded on Friday, Oct. 28, by suspending the Lakers from further play in the 2011 season, including the Section C semifinal game against Utica the following day.

Attorneys representing the Skaneateles CSD, including Daniel J. French, head football coach Tim Green’s attorney, as well as Green himself, went to DeJoseph’s court at 4:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, seeking a temporary injunction against the suspension to allow the team to play its semifinal game on Saturday.

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