Five football teams celebrated sectional championships last fall in Mahopac. This November, that number could be down to four.
Reducing the number of classes is one of 13 cost-cutting measures the New York State Public High School Athletic Association's executive committee is considering at a meeting in Binghamton tomorrow and Saturday.
Other proposals on the agenda include using centralized sites for state tournaments, using host officials for state quarterfinal games, setting a maximum number of scrimmages and restricting out-of-state travel.
If the number of classes is reduced - possibly from the current five to four - it could also result in some programs that are now traditional powers in separate classes being joined together in the same class. Traditionally, the NYSPHSAA has tried to distribute schools equally in each class.
The state's 11 sections will each have two representatives in Binghamton. For Section 1, it will be executive director Jennifer Simmons and Bronxville athletic director Karen Peterson.
"It's going to be a very interesting meeting, that's for sure," Peterson said last night. "We have a lot to discuss."
State sports chairs are meeting separately today.
If a proposal is put up for a vote, it will need a simple majority to pass. The measures that are approved by the executive committee would then be voted on by the sections at a later date.
Simmons said she will support using host officials for regional games, using video conferencing for meetings and reducing the number of executive meetings from four to three.
She will also support a proposal to use centralized sites for all NYSPHSAA championship competition, though she acknowledges that would likely rule out the Lower Hudson Valley as a possible state tournament site in the future.
On other proposals - such as limiting out-of-state travel and reducing the number of classes - she will vote to object, but is open to further discussion.
Section 1 has already made some big cost-cutting moves on its own - cutting the number of regular-season games for this spring season and approving a new conference setup based solely on geography that will be implemented in the fall.
By a vote of 59-16, Section 1 schools voted to change from their current conference alignment to a system where every sport but football will use geography as the overriding factor.
"While it's a big change for Section 1, it's not so different for other sections around the state," Simmons said. "We gave the locations and they plotted it, and one school district thought the transportation costs would be $22,000-$25,000 less."
With a few outliers based on topography, the conferences will be Rockland, Northern Westchester/Putnam, Central Westchester and Southern Westchester. The plan will be re-evaluated after one year.
Previously, sports such as hockey and boys and girls lacrosse have set up leagues based on ability, while basketball, baseball and softball employed leagues based on school size.
Simmons said Sections 8 (Nassau) and 11 (Suffolk) on Long Island already use a geography-based system, while Sections 3 and 9 are considering it.
Along with saving money, Simmons said the new setup could benefit an athlete's quality of life.
"It will reduce the amount of travel that schools have, and instead of getting home at 9:30-10, if you're close you'll get home at a reasonable hour," Simmons said.
Football was left untouched because of the limited number of games, and safety concerns if a big school played a small school. Other sports such as gymnastics and skiing, which don't have enough teams in all four conferences, might also be exempt from changes.
While the changes will be instituted in full next fall, a modified geography-based system has already been instituted in girls lacrosse for this spring.
Suffern has long been in a power league with programs such as Class A champion Lakeland/Panas and Class B champion Yorktown. Now the Mounties will be in an all-Rockland league with North Rockland, Pearl River, Nyack and Nanuet.
"The rationale is certainly justifiable," Suffern coach John Callanan said. "I think it could reinvigorate old rivalries in the region."
Meanwhile, Yorktown and Lakeland/Panas will be in a league with Mahopac, Brewster and John Jay.
"With all the budget cuts, it makes sense," Yorktown senior Jaimie Morrison said. "But the travelling doesn't bother me and I just want to play the best teams there are."
Already, Section 1 has cut the maximum number of regular-season games this spring - from 24 to 20 in baseball and softball and 18 to 16 in lacrosse - which is one of the measures up for debate over the next two days at Binghamton.
Reach Harold Gutmann at email@example.com.