- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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All Hallows and Monsignor Farrell are taking action after their boys basketball teams were recently demoted from Class AA to Class A, ESPNNewYork.com has learned.
All Hallows Principal Sean Sullivan plans to speak at the Catholic High School Athletic Association principals meeting June 13 to recommend a change to the league's system. Farrell Athletic Director Tony Garofalo said the school is putting together an appeal.
"I'm going to go in there full guns blazing," Sullivan said. "The league said nothing is set in stone and there are options. I'm going to try to convince them that this is the inmates are running the asylum mentality. We're getting punished for doing the right thing."
Sullivan, an assistant on the varsity baseball team, believes the principals should be the ones who dictate the divisions, instead of it being based on the coaches' rankings. He did not agree with the method when the league announced the format last year.
All coaches rank the teams in divisions, and then use those rankings to determine which teams should fall into which class. The chairmen of the divisions and the executive committee then implement coaches' recommendations.
While there is no set number for how many teams constitute each class, All Hallows fell six points behind Fordham Prep for the sixth and final Class AA spot, according to a source.
"They should let the principals vote," said Sullivan, who would like to see All Hallows play in the AA. "I'm not going to set my kids up for a massacre. If we couldn't compete, I'd be the first to say drop us down. It's a principal's decision. I know who is in my building and what kids are coming in. My coach gets the most out of the kids. The varsity competes."
The principal also sees this is a punishment, of sorts, for his school. He said it does not recruit like other schools, which results in fewer wins. All Hallows went 10-15 last year, making the Class AA quarterfinals, but has not won an lntersectional title since 1985.
"It comes down to the people interested in W's," Sullivan said. "That's not what school should be about. High school is about teaching. Any principal knows when his team is 0-19 it needs to move. We have a competitive program, but we're not visiting grammar schools looking for players. We have standards and I follow the rules."
Sullivan is also concerned about the ramifications of teams being moved up and down in the division based on the coaches' rankings. There were six teams that were moved up or down this year, with Iona, Nazareth, Salesian and Moore Catholic all moving up.
"By setting it up, will people not in the AA go out and actively recruit basketball players so they can move up?" Sullivan said. "Will the people in the AA now doubly recruit to stay there? It sets up a vicious cycle that is all about wins and that's not what high school education is about."
Farrell was voted the No. 3 team in Staten Island, but only the top two teams make the AA. Since there are only four teams in the CHSAA from Staten Island, those four teams rank on their own and are not allowed to rank themselves. Farrell went 10-15 last year.
Garofalo acknowledged that it's tough to have a perfect system for the Staten Island schools, but he and his coach, Mike Dunn, both feel Farrell can play in the AA.
"We're unhappy with where we were ranked and we'd like to let the league know that we'd like to play an AA schedule," Garofalo said. "If anything can be taken into consideration, we'd like it to be made, and if not, that's fine."
Archdiocese president Rich Tricario said All Hallows submitted a late vote that was nullified because it did not follow the instructions. Sullivan said his athletic director was in the hospital during that time and he should have been made aware as principal.
Tricario backed the system that was created to ensure more competitive games.
"It's not perfect but it's objective instead of subjective," Tricario said. "Most people felt it worked."