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Decision No. 17,793

Appeal of J.M., from action of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and the Board of Education of the Catskill Central School District regarding athletic eligibility.

Decision No. 17,793

(November 20, 2019)

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

Hogan, Sarzynski, Lynch, DeWind & Gregory, LLP, attorneys for respondent Board of Education of the Catskill Central School District, Ed Sarzynski, Esq., of counsel

TAHOE., Acting Commissioner.--Petitioner purports to appeal the determination of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (“NYSPHSAA”) and the Board of Education of the Catskill Central School District (“respondent”) that he was ineligible to participate in interscholastic athletics during the 2018-2019 school year.[1]  The appeal must be dismissed.

During the 2018-2019 school year, petitioner was a senior at respondent’s Catskill High School, where he had previously participated as a member of the school’s interscholastic soccer team.  As relevant here, petitioner turned 19 on May 9, 2018 – during the 2017-2018 school year.

Sometime thereafter, respondent informed petitioner that, pursuant to section 135.4(c)(7)(ii)(b)(1) of the Commissioner’s regulations, he would be ineligible to participate in interscholastic athletics during the 2018-2019 school year because he had reached the age of 19 prior to the start of the school year on July 1, 2018.  This appeal ensued.  Petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on August 14, 2018.

Petitioner contends that extenuating circumstances should permit him to participate in interscholastic soccer despite having attained the age of 19 prior to the 2018-2019 school year.  As relief, petitioner seeks an order permitting him to participate in interscholastic soccer during the 2018-2019 season.

Respondent and NYSPHSAA both argue that petitioner was ineligible to participate in interscholastic sports during the 2018-2019 school year pursuant to section 135.4(c)(7)(ii)(b)(1) of the Commissioner’s regulations.[2]

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 Sutton, 57 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 17,331; Appeal of a Student with a Disability, 48 id. 532, Decision No. 15,940; Appeal of M.M., 48 id. 527, Decision No. 15,937).  Here, petitioner seeks only to be permitted to participate in interscholastic soccer during the 2018-2019 school year.  As noted, petitioner’s request for interim relief was denied on August 14, 2018, and the 2018-2019 school year has ended.  Consequently, the matter is moot (Appeal of P.D. and C.C., 56 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 16,999).

In any event, even if the appeal were not moot, it would be dismissed on the merits.  Section 135.4(c)(7)(ii)(b)(1) of the Commissioner’s regulations provides, in relevant part, that “[a] pupil shall be eligible for interschool competition in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 until the last day of the school year in which he or she attains the age of 19....”

Petitioner admits that he attained the age of 19 on May 9, 2018 – during the 2017-2018 school year.  Therefore, respondent correctly determined that petitioner was ineligible to compete in interscholastic athletics during the 2018-2019 school year.  The regulation in question contains no provision for a waiver of the maximum age limitation (Appeal of Cham, 55 Ed Dept Rep, Decision No. 16,873).

In light of this disposition, I need not address the parties’ remaining contentions.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE

 

[1] Although not directly relevant to this appeal, NYSPHSAA is a voluntary association of public and non-public secondary schools that serves as a governing body for interscholastic athletics.  Accordingly, in addition to the provisions of section 135.4 of the Commissioner’s regulations governing interscholastic athletic competition, NYSPHSAA’s member schools are subject to NYSPHSAA’s Bylaws and Eligibility Standards.

 

[2] NYSPHSAA additionally notes that it has not heard or rendered a determination on this matter.