V845 Notebook: Newburgh grand jury report leaves countless questions unanswered

First things first…

The biggest local sports story this past week was one that had much more to do with what happened off the field than what happened on it. A grand jury report released Thursday about Newburgh Free Academy detailed years of attendance record manipulation and chronic student absenteeism, in addition to other accusations. This will be a story that me and my colleagues will continue to report over the coming weeks, but here’s what we’ve written on the subject so far.

Heather Yakin reported the findings from the grand jury report on Thursday.

Lana Bellamy on the school’s response to the report.

Lana Bellamy on who is accountable for the scandal.

Finally, I spoke with Section 9, OCIAA and athletic directors, attempting to find out the implications for a school that allegedly allowed ineligible athletes to compete for years.

Sunday baseball feature

This week I profiled Jimmy Murphy, a catcher on the Cornwall baseball team who didn’t earn a starting role until this year. You can read his story here.

Below is some more from my conversation with Cornwall head coach Tom Fanning on Murphy:

On seeing the improvements Murphy made in the offseason:

“I thought he’d have a ways to go to be a starting catcher, and he’s made so much progress that in the fall, he was getting compliments from other coaches on how good he was blocking the ball and everything and that’s when I saw a huge difference. When he came out in the fall and started blocking stuff, being stronger and active and athletic, that was a big difference than I was expecting him to come out with.”

On how Murphy’s teammates look at him now:

“They see a difference with him. It’s unbelievable.”

Here’s some additional quotes from my conversation with Murphy:

On putting his achievement of becoming the starter in perspective:

“It was a little accomplishment for the bigger picture which is a state championship.”

On his desire to play at the next level:

“I’m hoping if I could have a standout senior year I can get some looks, but I’m just going to see how it goes, hope for the best.”

Notable sports journalism from March Madness

John Branch for New York Times on the NCAA team guaranteed to lose: the referees.

Brian Hamilton for The Athletic on Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard.

Lindsay Gibbs for ThinkProgress writes about how a school’s off-court sins can’t be erased with a Final Four berth.

Michael McKnight for Sports Illustrated on Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl.

Dana O’Neil for The Athletic tells the story of Ty Jerome’s Final Four victory through the eyes of his father.

Other great sports journalism from the week

Ty Dunne for Bleacher Report with a deeply reported story about the issues that went on between Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy in Green Bay.

Ian O’Connor for ESPN tells a story about a NFL executive’s long battle with alcoholism and trying to forgive himself.

Nick Paumgarten for New Yorker profiles the rise and fall of Chris Carton.

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