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Decision No. 15,922

Appeal of the TIOGA CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT from action of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Section IV Athletic Council of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, regarding interscholastic athletics.

Decision No. 15,922

(May 22, 2009)

Hogan, Sarzynski, Lynch, Surowka & DeWind, LLP, attorneys for petitioner, Michael G. Surowka, Esq., of counsel

Renee L. James, Esq., attorney for respondent New York State Public High School Athletic Association

Levene, Gouldin & Thompson, LLP, attorneys for respondent Section IV Athletic Council of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, David M. Gouldin, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioner is a central school district located within Section IV of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (“Association”), and is a member of the Association.  Petitioner appeals on behalf of two of its student varsity wrestlers from certain determinations made by Section IV and the Association with respect to their interscholastic competition during the 2008-2009 wrestling season.  The appeal must be dismissed.

The Association, acting through its sections, including Section IV, maintains a wrestling minimum weight certification program for high school wrestlers.  The program is designed to place high school wrestlers at a safe weight class for competition, and to discourage severe weight loss in order to compete at lower weight class levels.  According to the Association’s Assessor’s Handbook:

PURPOSE: Accurate determination of minimum wrestling weight from urinalysis (specific gravity to determine state of hydration) and skinfold measures (determine percent bodyfat) is important to provide each wrestler with information regarding a healthful body weight for wrestling.  Standardization of urinalysis and skinfold site locations and equations is essential to calculate accurate minimum wrestling weight.

BACKGROUND: Skinfold measurements determine the level of subcutaneous fat. . . . Dehydration is a common procedure used by wrestlers to obtain weight loss. 

. . .

The Wrestling Minimum Weight Certification Program has been developed not to eliminate weight loss in wrestling, but to encourage healthy weight loss via nutrition education and to control weight loss to healthy levels.

Generally, the program provides for both urinalysis and skinfold measurement testing, to be completed within 14 days of the start of the wrestling season (November 10, 2008, in Section IV), excluding Sundays and days when schools are closed.  The program provides for initial testing and appellate procedures, including hydrostatic testing. 

At the initial testing level, petitioner’s student J.M. was certified to wrestle in the 140-pound weight class, but wanted to wrestle in the lower 135-pound weight class.  Petitioner’s student C.S. was certified to wrestle in the 119-pound weight class, but wanted to wrestle in the lower 112-pound weight class.

After a complicated series of appeals and further testing, on December 1, 2008, hydrostatic testing at the State University of New York College at Cortland indicated that J.M. could safely wrestle at 135 pounds and that C.S. could safely wrestle at 112 pounds.  However, because these appellate assessments were completed beyond the time parameters mandated by the Association’s testing program, both Section IV and the Association refused to recognize the December 1 assessments.  As a result, during the 2008-2009 season, J.M. was required to wrestle in the 140-pound class, and C.S. was required to wrestle in the 119-pound class.

Petitioner commenced this appeal on December 30, 2008, against Section IV, and on January 5, 2009, against the Association.  Interim relief was denied on January 13, 2009. 

The appeal must be dismissed as moot.  The Commissioner will only decide matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of Tine, 46 Ed Dept Rep 579, Decision No. 15,600; Appeal of N.C., 46 id. 358, Decision No. 15,532; Appeal of Lombardo, 46 id. 282, Decision No. 15,508).  By the time the parties had submitted all papers necessary for consideration of this appeal, the 2008-2009 wrestling season had already concluded, and the New York State Wrestling Tournament was about to begin.  Accordingly, relief for the 2008-2009 season is not possible and the appeal must be dismissed as moot.

I note, however, that both wrestlers on whose behalf this appeal was brought achieved outstanding records of success.  Wrestling in the 119-pound weight class, C.S. achieved a regular season record of 28 wins and 7 losses, while J.M., wrestling in the 140-pound weight class, achieved a record of 43 wins and 7 losses.  In addition, both wrestlers qualified for, and participated in, the State Wrestling Tournament.

In view of this disposition, I need not consider the parties’ remaining contentions. 

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF APPEAL