First, full disclosure: I am a member of the NYSSO Board of Directors. I am also a current SO Coach (and have been for 17 years), I've been a Regional, State, and National event supervisor, and the New York State Science Olympiad Web Master. I am not here to debate the merits of the policy or the appropriateness of the penalty for missing the registration deadline, but rather to make some observations regarding the discussion of this issue:
1. The policy being discussed was adopted by the Board in June of 2010, and has been posted on the web site since that time (click on the State Policies link and scroll down to June 26, 2010). It was first applied to Great Neck South for the 2011 State Tournament. I find it interesting that when a member of the Great Neck South team posted that the team would not be competing in the Tournament because of a "small" error (see page 38 of the New York thread in the 2011 archive), that post received a grand total of 3 responses (one asking for more information, one stating how sorry the poster was to hear about this, and one stating that the policy was "ridiculous"). If you look through the 72 pages in that thread, you will notice that there were a number of Gelinas and Ward Melville students who were very active in the thread, yet none of the three people who responded to this posting was from either school. Now that Ward Melville has been given the same penalty for the same infraction, the response has been an uproar, requiring two additional threads to contain students' outrage. I just find it interesting that when it was Great Neck South, only one person on the New York thread felt compelled to express his/her outrage over the policy and its implementation, but now that its Ward Melville the response has been so great.
2. Since the policy was implemented in 2010, 7 deadlines for registration for the State Tournament have passed – 4 at the High School and three at the Middle School (the current B State Tournament is not until April, so that deadline has not yet passed). A total of 323 teams have received invitations to compete in those 7 tournaments. Only three teams – Great Neck South, Bethlehem, and Ward Melville – have failed to meet the registration deadline. In some cases, coaches sent in the registration with their own personal check, which was returned when the District check arrived (the Ward Melville coach knew this was an option and decided not to use it). Whatever you might think of the penalty, there is a REALLY easy way to avoid it – get your registration and check to the State Director on time, and the overwhelming number of New York teams have been able to do so. While you may be unhappy with the Board because of the decision to follow our own policy, I see little anger directed at the people who actually caused the situation. Some people have expressed anger with the auditor. How about the person at the Business Office who was informed of the deadline and told the coach there would be no problem getting the check out? Or the fact that the Business Office never informed the coach that problems on their end would prevent them from mailing the check in time to meet the deadline? Or the coach who never bothered, in the two weeks between the time he dropped off the registration and the deadline, to follow up and make sure the check and registration had actually been mailed?
3. Much has been said about the fact that Mr. Miller tried to contact a retired teacher rather than the head coach. While the discussion of this ranges from "she helps out occasionally" to "she hasn't coached in years" the fact is she was included on a registration from Ward Melville as an active coach. The fact that contact information is requested for all coaches listed on the registration should be an indication that these forms will be used when the State Director needs to speak with a coach from the school. The first time the Director would need to speak with any team's coach would be December 15, when the registration cutoff for the number of medals a region will receive to hand out occurs. The next time such contact would need to be made is in February, if there was a problem with the team's registration for the State Tournament. Both of these dates are in the winter, yet it has been stated that this individual spends the winter in Florida, so why would the head coach list a contact person who couldn't be reached on the registration papers? If all of the coaches listed on the three registration papers were legitimate coaches, it wouldn't matter which one Mr. Miller contacted – if he got any of the coaches, I'm sure the information would have been relayed to the appropriate person.