By DONNA TOMMELLEO AP Sports Writer
HARTFORD (AP) - Any Connecticut high school football coach who runs up the score in a game now runs the risk of being suspended.
The football committee of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the state board that governs high school sports, has adopted a "score management" policy to keep teams from winning by more than 50 points.
The rout is considered an unsportsmanlike infraction and, beginning this fall, the head coach of the offending team will be disqualified from coaching the next game, said Tony Mosa, assistant executive director of the Cheshire-based CIAC.
"We were concerned with any coach running up the game. There's no need for it," Mosa said Wednesday. "This is something that we really have been discussing for the last couple of years. There were a number of games that were played where the difference of scores were 60 points or more. It's not focused on any one particular person."
Still, some around the state have dubbed it the "Jack Cochran rule," after the New London coach of the same name.
During halftime of New London's 60-0 rout of Tourtelotte/Ellis Tech last season, opposing coach Tim Panteleakos was arrested on breach of peace charges. With his team sitting on a huge lead, Cochran called a timeout just before the half, and that apparently riled Panteleakos.
He allegedly hit a New London security officer and tried to hit a New London assistant coach.
Cochran's teams logged four wins of more than 50 points last year.
"It's basically the Jack (Cochran) rule," Hyde Leadership-New Haven football coach John Acquavita told the New Haven Register. "For one guy, you're putting the stress on the entire state. It's the most asinine, insane thing I've ever heard of in my life."
Leo Facchini, New London's athletic director, called it unfair to single out his coach or the sport of football.
"He's not the only person that's had big scores. Score management is not only an issue in football. It's an issue in sports across the board," Facchini said. "There needs to be some remedy."
Facchini said he and Cochran tried to pull in the reins during New London's 90-0 drubbing of Griswold last season by trying to get both sides and the timekeeper to agree to run a continuous clock.
"We were told no. As the second half started, I radioed up to the timekeeper three times to run the clock," Facchini said. "Trying to defend a 90-to-nothing game is going to make me look like an idiot. We did try to remedy it."
The CIAC's Mosa said the football committee unanimously approved the policy last month after "considerable discussion and debate."
The state already has a 15-run mercy rule in softball. If a team is ahead by at least that much, the game is stopped after five innings.
For football, the committee looked at various options on the issue, including using the continuous clock used by other states. In Iowa, for example, if a team is ahead by 35 points in the second half, the game clock runs continuously until the game is over.
Facchini favors running out the clock in routs, and said he plans to use it if necesssary at New London home games this fall.
"We're going to run the clock if we feel the score's out of hand," Facchini said.
But Mosa said committee members believed the clock rule would be unfair to junior varsity players who likely would be on the field during lopsided games.
"They should be able to participate (rather) than to simply run out the clock," Mosa said.
Football committee chairman Leroy Williams agreed.
"It was felt that the J-V parents pay to come to the game and that should not be taken away from them," Williams said.
Williams, now a middle school principal in New Haven, formerly coached high school in the city and remembers well the beatings his teams were handed. He recalls being down by 54 points in one game and having the opposing team line up for an onside kick after scoring.
"Try to explain that to kids," Williams said. "When you get someone down, you don't have to kick them. The key thing to remember is, it's about the quality of the game. It's about teaching kids right from wrong. It's about the game of life and that's how we had to look about it."