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What cuts for Pinellas will be next? Schools to hear Thursday

In October, the Times published a story detailing the cost of athletics in a school district, in this case, Pinellas County. At the time, Pinellas schools superintendent Howard Hinesley was asked about the possibility of cutting sports, especially those available by other means.

"It may be one of the things we have to look at," Hinesley said, "what the community has to offer."

Last week, Hinesley said $40-million in new cuts will be made because of shortages in the state budget. He said he will announce those cuts Thursday.

Hinesley's words from last October have people wondering what will be next. Elimination of sports? Coaching cutbacks? Layoffs?

Pinellas County athletic director Bob Hosack has heard nothing definite.

"No, not at this time," Hosack said. "Everything is being closely looked at. I just don't know and I have not been advised. He will make his announcement Thursday. I provided him with (financial) figures."

Those figures include the true cost (budgeted expenses minus revenues generated by gate receipts) of each sport, per year. According to the Times story in October, those costs per sport are: cheerleading ($52,550), football ($34,098), cross country ($46,100), swimming ($59,805), volleyball ($36,761), boys basketball ($52,154), girls basketball ($92,446), soccer ($60,224), wrestling ($63,912), track and field ($147,293), baseball ($67,114), softball ($66,909), tennis ($34,600) and golf ($24,275).

Already, the shrinking school budget has resulted in shortened schedules in most sports. Hosack lost his assistant, Paul McLaughlin, to the classroom last year. There was a discussed layoff of teachers last year, which would have affected 49 coaches. The layoffs didn't materialize.

Pinellas appears to be the first district to deal with the latest shortage of education money. How Pinellas acts may provide an example for other counties to follow.

Hoops recruiting: Geez, you didn't get enough recruiting news this month? There is more coming in April; basketball players (and other winter and spring sport athletes) can sign on the 15th. The action is not as frenzied as football recruiting because basketball players could sign in October if they chose to.

Four local basketball players have signed: Dixie Hollins' Dametri Hill (Florida), Lakewood's Anthony Brown (Alabama), Seminole's Christine Olson (Miami) and Citrus' Joy Porter (Florida Atlantic).

The best recruits still available nationally include Miami's Steve Edwards (6 feet 6).

Yahoo for Wahoo: Wahoo, Neb., is a small town with a big reputation in boys basketball. Over the weekend, Wahoo High won twice to become 17-0 and stretch its winning streak to 107 games. The Warriors' streak is the third longest in prep boys basketball history, behind the 159 by Passaic, N.J. (1919-25) and the 129 by Valdosta (Ga.) Christian (1979-84).

Two tragedies: Stories appear regularly about young athletes dying from heart conditions. But the tale last week from Spangle, Wash., was especially tragic.

Stacey Olson, a 17-year-old boy, collapsed in his high school gym class and died _ in the same Liberty High gym where his twin brother had died of a heart condition 2{ years ago.

In October 1989, Tracey Olson died in class. It was discovered he had an enlarged valve on the right side of the heart. Stacey was later diagnosed with the same defect and was put on medication.

"We're a high school of 187 kids so everyone knows everyone else," Liberty principal Tom Ashenbrenner said. "It was a very tough day."