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Despite criticism of CIAC, task force recommends few changes to group governing school sports

A state task force is recommending few changes to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the independent group that governs school sports statewide, despite calls from some coaches and lawmakers for more transparency and accountability.

John Craven

Dec 21, 2022, 12:55 AM

Updated 548 days ago

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A state task force is recommending few changes to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the independent group that governs school sports statewide, despite calls from some coaches and lawmakers for more transparency and accountability.
One of the critics is longtime New Canaan High School football coach Lou Martinelli, who just led the Rams to their 23rd state football championship.
"After having served for so long and then just being – having the door shut, it was obvious that they didn't want to hear what I had to say anymore,” said Marinelli. “If it doesn't align with their thoughts, it just kind of goes by the wayside and they say nope."
State lawmakers have been critical too, accusing CIAC of secrecy and arbitrary policies, particularly concerning COVID. So legislators created a task force to examine how the organization operates.
The task force is made up of CIAC leaders, including executive director Glenn Lungarini, as well high school coaches, athletic directors and school leaders.
The panel’s final report, approved on Tuesday, pushes back on the criticism. It insists "all schools have a voice in the decision-making process,” with committees of coaches and athletic directors getting the biggest say in setting rules and bylaws. Instead of structural changes, the report urges CIAC to do a better job educating lawmakers and the public.
"We don't need any further oversight from anyone else,” said task force member Fred Balsamo, the executive director of the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors. “When the membership speaks, the CIAC Board listens."
But Tuesday, other task force members said CIAC’s process is murky.
"It's confusing to the leagues,” said Al Carbone, commissioner of the Southern CT Conference. "The way decisions are made and the process, and who weighs in on it."
The legislature’s Education Committee will get the final report next month. Some want more state oversight.
Marinelli said the focus should stay on the students.
"It's a step in the right direction, for sure,” he said. "You need to have those guys who are in the trenches, that are dealing with the kids today, that are dealing with parents today."


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