Eric Patchkofsky’s stance is direct and to the point on what he would like to see on the CIAC Board of Control moving forward.
“We want to work collaboratively with the CIAC to allow for more representation for urban districts,” said Patchkofsky, New Haven’s citywide director of athletics. “I feel like the major cities should have had more of a voice in decisions that are made.”
There are close to 40 members on the CIAC Board of Control, which normally discusses monthly anything and everything with potential change for high school sports in Connecticut. From that board, there are 19 who vote on the matters up for discussion,
Currently, there is no representation from the cities of New Haven, Bridgeport, Hartford or Stamford on the CIAC Board of Control.
“I support our athletic director of New Haven completely in his stance representing the student-athletes from New Haven who are predominantly people of color,” said Judge Nick Northcutt, a member of New Haven’s advisory committee and a retired associate justice for the Connecticut Supreme Court.
The Board of Control has been more in the public eye due to decisions that have been made over the past six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of those decisions include the cancellation of the remainder of the winter postseason championships, the cancellation of the entire spring sports season and the most recent decision to continue on with both football and girls volleyball in its current format despite the state Department of Health’s recommendation to alter how both are played this fall — 7 on 7 for football and outdoors only for girls volleyball.
“While at this time the majority of diverse representation comes from suburbs of New Haven and Hartford, the past three years have included direct representation from Waterbury, Hartford, New London, and Manchester,” said Glenn Lungarini, the CIAC’s executive director. “I do think we have representation from diverse school districts when looking at all of the sub-committees by sport. I would certainly expect that as we move forward, we will continue to have representation from urban cities in the future. It so happens this year the only (city) representation is from Waterbury (Sacred Heart).”
Patchkofsky, Northcutt and Don McAulay Sr., another member of New Haven’s advisory committee, met with Lungarini on Aug. 4. By all accounts, the meeting was a positive one.
“I thought the fact that he even met with us was a positive step. The meeting had very civil elements of strong action down the line,” Northcutt said.
McAulay said he has spoken to Lungarini since then about the Board of Control and other potential changes the CIAC could make.
Lungarini noted one item to come out of that meeting was the urgency to create a Student Equity Advisory Board. Four members of each league will be represented on the board to discuss the issues currently impacting school or athletics’ issues.
“A take-away from that meeting was the need for CIAC to expand upon its existing programs that support urban districts by focusing on opportunities to address social justice and equity with its member students,” Lungarini said.
A lot has happened since that meeting occurred.
Both New Haven and Bridgeport have postponed football and girls volleyball this fall to be in line with its local Department of Health. Also, New Haven has decided against conducting field hockey or soccer this season.
“The stance of New Haven not playing moderate and high-risk sports comes from City Hall and the local DPH following state guidelines,” Patchkofsky said. He did say practice is being held for the sports of cross country and girls swimming.
Then, after a week of pausing the conditioning for all fall sports to review the DPH’s recommendations, the CIAC Board of Control voted to not only continue with all sports — including both 11 on 11 football and girls volleyball outdoors — but to not move any fall sports to the spring if they are cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier in August, the CIAC football committee had voted to move its season to the spring.
Lungarini noted Wednesday that conversations with the state DPH are ongoing and the skill development and conditioning continues to be done in cohorts of 10 until Sept. 21, when it will be evaluated further.
“I think we are fairly well-aligned (with DPH) in the four sports (soccer, field hockey, swimming and cross country) and in discussion on the other two trying to come to a joint position on that,” Lungarini said.
Northcutt also said the CIAC should consider a subcommittee with “minority representation” to work “as an adjunct” to the CIAC Board of Control.
“We are not looking for it to happen overnight,” Patchkofsky said. “If there was urban representation and the decisions were the same but we were able to voice our opinion and give our feedback, then so be it.”
Said McAulay: “We don’t want to believe one representative can change the tide. We don’t get one person on (the Board) and we are good. What we are looking for is equity and inclusion.”
Lungarini said positions on the Board of Control are usually open “on an annual basis.” He said inquiries are sent to the entire CIAC membership at the beginning each school year, then fills out its various committees depending on availability.
Also, to be a voting member on the Board of Control, Lungarini said you have to be either a principal or an assistant principal.
“We are a principal association,” Lungarini said.