BOE to form task force to decide future of ‘selection classification’ policy

— “It’s a very difficult program to manage because of the subjective nature in which a prospective student-athlete ultimately is judged,” said district Athletic Director Michael Byrnes. “One coach says a student is ‘exceptional’ and another coach says the student is ‘really good.’ … Some coaches on my staff have made the hard decision over the years and cut this prospective student, while others opted to keep the student in the place of an older aged student. Usually, one way or the other, somebody gets upset in the process.”

On the other side of the debate, board member Karin Marris said she feels the board has already defined the policy and how it should be administered, but Byrnes, as the athletic director and ultimately in charge of the program, has not administered it sufficiently. “We need an administrator who can say no to parents and coaches [when they want to advance an athlete],” she said.

Byrnes was tasked by the board in January to study the policy more closely and come back to them in February with some ideas or recommendations. He told the board he had conducted a coach survey during the past month, and the results showed in general that while the majority of district coaches liked the program, they had a “mixed reaction” as to how it was used by their fellow coaches.

High school indoor girls track and girls cross country coach Kurt Wheeler, who spoke during the board’s public comment period, urged the board to keep the program, saying they should not punish every coach for the transgressions of the few who may not use the selection classification program as it is intended. He said that during his 18 years and 50 athletic seasons in Cazenovia, the majority of coaches use the program appropriately.

Wheeler also said that all of the recent discussions on this program have been about team sports, but absent from those discussions have been individual sports like running or tennis where “no one is harmed” by bringing up players. As an example, he said he has an eighth grade runner coming up next year that may turn out to be the “best runner in school history,” and to not allow her the opportunity to move up to junior varsity or varsity through selection classification would be a disservice to her.

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