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SUNY boss Malatras must go for smearing Cuomo sex accuser, 31 Assembly pols say

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SUNY boss Malatras must go for smearing Cuomo sex accuser, 31 Assembly pols say

Embattled SUNY Chancellor James Malatras’ days appeared numbered Wednesday as more than 30 Assembly members signed onto a letter calling for his resignation or firing, The Post has learned.

The draft letter being circulated will be sent to the State University of New York’s Board of Trustees.

The groundswell calling for Malatras’ ouster for smearing one of disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment accusers comes just days after Gov. Kathy Hochul refused to say he should resign.

“We, the undersigned members of the New York State Assembly, call upon the Board of
Trustees of The State University of New York to terminate the Chancellorship of James Malatras, to appoint an interim replacement, and to initiate a national search open to all qualified candidates including women and people of color,” says the letter, being circulated by Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright (D-Manhattan).

“Chancellor Malatras has lost our confidence that he has the credibility or character to lead the nation’s largest public university so vital to the educational aspirations of hundreds of thousands of SUNY students. We agree with his recent statement, issued to the SUNY community, in which he admitted being responsible for `failing to live up to the
standards that leadership of this institution entails.’ He described his behavior as
“inappropriate, disrespectful and wrong,” the letter reads.

Andrew Cuomo resigned as governor after sexual harassment claims.
AP Photo/Mike Groll, File

“Actually, his reported comments, included in transcripts released last week by New York’s Attorney General were misogynistic, abusive, and irresponsible. The SUNY system, which we all strongly support, deserves better. The students, faculty, and staff deserve better. The alumni, whose careers are impacted by the reputation of the
system, deserve better. New York State deserves better. The time to act is now.”

Thirty one Assembly Democratic members signed the letter as of Wednesday afternoon.

One influential lawmaker, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, the Brooklyn Democratic leader who heads the legislative body’s task force on women’s issues, is among those who’ve turned against Malatras and signed onto the letter. She’s a graduate of SUNY Buffalo.

“We cannot tolerate a toxic environment in our school system. As a SUNY alum and chair of the Task Force on Women’s Issues I join my colleagues in calling on the SUNY Board to terminate the chairmanship of James Malatras,” Bichotte told The Post.

Senators and government watchdog groups also said Malatras must go.

“The series of revelations over the last several months regarding the actions of SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras and his conduct in the workplace are deeply disturbing and have made it increasingly apparent he is unfit to lead SUNY,” said state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx).

“The SUNY Chancellor must exemplify the ideals of public service to its hundreds of thousands of students. Chancellor Malatras has failed to act as such.”

James Malatras
James Malatras is facing calls to resign after the release of text messages showing he mocked one of the women accusing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.
AP Photo/Mike Groll, File

Biaggi specifically referred to Malatras’ “retaliation” against Lindsey Boylan, the first woman to publicly air harassment claims against Cuomo last December, as well as other other hostile acts in the administration’s workplace.

Biaggi had previously served in Cuomo’s counsel office and worked with Malatras, former state operations director and Cuomo confidante.

She also cited evidence — including a recent audio clip — of Malatras berating subordinates and his role in editing a Cuomo administration report that deliberately undercounted coronavirus deaths in nursing homes last year. Malatras has denied low-balling the death count.

The senator continued, “The resignation of Gov. Cuomo closed a dark chapter in New York State government, one that has made clear that in our state institutions and agencies, we will not tolerate the abusive and unethical behavior associated with the previous administration — especially in leadership positions as important to New York, as the SUNY Chancellor.”

Cuomo resigned in August amid a slew of sexual harassment accusations substantiated by investigators with state Attorney General Letitia James’ office.

The tidal wave of anti-Malatras statements comes after The Post revealed that SUNY board chairwoman Merry Tisch — also a mega-Democratic Party donor — made phone calls to lawmakers to save Malatras’ jobs. She was successful in urging some legislators to back off, including her local Manhattan senator, powerful Senate Finance Committee chairwoman Liz Krueger.

President of SUNY Empire State College Jim Malatras
More than 30 Assembly members signed onto a letter calling for James Malatras’ resignation or firing.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul also provided Malatras a lifeline by refusing to call for his ouster when asked on Monday.

Other politicians from both parties — including Sens. Gustavo Rivera, John Liu, Assembly Higher Education Committee chairwoman Deborah Glick as well as students and professors — previously said Malatras has to go.

Meanwhile, the government watchdog Common Cause also said Malatras’ time is up.

“It’s clear that Chancellor Malatras is unfit for the role of leading a university system and serving as a model for truth and transparency; a job he was given based on his loyalty to the former Governor, rather than a public, competitive search process,” said Common Cause executive director Susan Learner.

Lerner also mentioned Malatras’ role in preparing the discredited COVID nursing home report as well as his work editing Cuomo $5.1 million COVID-19 leadership memoir as well as “assisting in the retaliation and harassment of a colleague for speaking up about her experience being harassed in the workplace.”

“We stand with the students and faculty who have called for his resignation or removal. Keeping him on as Chancellor of SUNY sends a terrible message to students and faculty, and betrays the high standards for elected and appointed officials that we should demand. Common Cause/NY urges the Governor to follow through on her commitment to public integrity and support Malatras’ removal.”

Malatras wrote in a text to Cuomo aides in 2019, amid the administration’s dispute with Boylan over workplace issues, “Malatras to Boylan: Go f–k yourself.”

The SUNY chief added in another text, “Let’s release some of her cray [crazy] emails!”

Malatras also forwarded Cuomo aides a picture of a nuclear explosion with the word “kaboom” while discussing Boylan.

He sent the texts 18 months before her sexual-misconduct allegations against Cuomo surfaced.

The texts were unearthed by state Attorney General Letitia James last week as part of a massive document dump in her office’s sexual-harassment probe of Cuomo.

Malatras issued an apology late Friday over the texts, saying, “My words were inappropriate, disrespectful and wrong” — while the SUNY board of trustees put out a statement backing him.

He and his allies also noted that his comments attacking Boylan were made in May of 2019, 18 months before the former Cuomo economic development official accused the exiled governor of harassment.

But Boylan said in a tweet Tuesday that she was lodging complaints about a hostile work environment when Malatras slimed her.

“I cannot get over the fact that the largest higher education system in the country is run by someone who retaliated against & belittled me when I spoke up about the toxic work environment I faced working for the former governor,” Boylan said.

“What message does this send to students?”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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