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On snap: Snapple donates $2M towards PSAL expansion

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Who knew a bottle of Snapple could personify both good and evil? The city announced recently that it’s increasing the Public School Athletic League by 120 teams, 20 in Queens, thanks to $2 million it is getting from Snapple, the beverage company that is in the center of a hailstorm of controversy concerning its deal with the city.

Every year high school athletic directors send the PSAL a wish-list of teams they want added to their programs. Snapple, which is distributing $3 million over a two-year period to the PSAL and the physical education programs of middle and high schools in the city, is responsible for the largest PSAL expansion in 25 years. The biggest increase that anyone can remember before then is 12 teams.

“Our partnership with Snapple has enabled our city to provide countless new athletic and fitness opportunities for our children,” Chancellor Joel Klein said in a statement, speaking of the $40 million the Department of Education is receiving from the deal.

Flushing was the winner of the Snapple sweepstakes with the addition of girls’ cross-country and JV football at a price of $20,148. Jamaica High School was second with varsity and JV football teams and girls’ varsity bowling at $17,082. Richmond Hill and Queens High School of Teaching were the only other schools to gain two teams each, with Queens High School of Teaching getting coed fencing and boys’ varsity soccer. The contributions will affect 76 high schools across the city.

But not every school got what it wanted. Francis Lewis petitioned the PSAL to add girls’ handball but only secured girls’ JV basketball even though the school already has six handball courts and enough students to fill up a roster.

“The girls are already practicing with the boys, but we weren’t going to pay a coach unless the girls got their own team,” said Lewis’ athletic director, Arnie Rosenbaum, in his fourth year in the position.

Richmond Hill’s Tom Donohue is on a winning streak of sorts in terms of petitioning the PSAL for teams. The Snapple deal will introduce a JV girls’ basketball team and a golf team for the spring. Last year his program added JV baseball and the year before, boys’ outdoor track.

“The PSAL has been really good to us,” said Donohue, in his fifth year as athletic director. “We were even offered a wrestling team to our program, but we had to say no because we didn’t have the facilities for it.”

The New York Post reported last week that some principals felt shortchanged by the deal that made Snapple the exclusive provider of beverages to city schools, complaining that the commissions are lower than they were for previous beverages.

A state judge recently turned down City Comptroller William Thompson Jr.’s attempt to block the city’s $126-million contract with Snapple to put its drinks on city property. Thompson contends that higher bids for the beverage deal were thrown out because the outcome was “predetermi­ned.”

“We’re able to provide these kids with so many opportunities because of the deal with Snapple,” said Department of Education spokesperson Michele McManus in response to the Snapple attacks. “(The expansion) would not have happened without Snapple.”

Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at timesledger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

Posted 7:04 pm, October 10, 2011
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