PIAA at Crossroads

September 7, 2018

Last week, the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee discussed Act 219 of 1972, and whether separating private, parochial, and charter schools into a separate tournament would be the best way to achieve competitive balance among the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association's member schools.

According to the Daily Times, the final text of the Act 219 of 1972 reads that “Private Schools shall be permitted, if OTHERWISE qualified, to BE MEMBERS OF THE PENNSYLVANIA INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION.” Some schools believe that by separating the “non-boundary” schools into a separate tournament, it will combat the trend in which a disproportionate number of private schools win state tournaments.

William Hall, Superintendent of Millcreek Township Schools and one of the leaders of the Equity Summit, which is composed of representatives of 150 of the state's smaller public schools, said he was in favor of separate playoffs.

“We were flat out told no from the get-go that they would not even address separate playoffs,” Hall told the Daily Times. “We felt we had no other recourse but to organize ourselves and that’s what we did.”

The PAOC's Chairman Rep, Gene DiGirolamo, however, disagreed.

“It would be hard for me to believe the intent of the law … was to allow schools to be part of the PIAA and then not allow them to play in championship rounds against other schools,” DiGirolamo said. “It’s hard to believe that was the legislative intent.”

Jay Costa, State Senator for Pennsylvania, expressed disapproval for the PAOC passing multiple changes at its July meeting, including a postseason ban for athletes who transfer after ninth grade.

“I've been disappointed in the way the PIAA went about adopting new regulations related to transfers, and the unfairness of the competition between private and public schools in state championships,” Costa tweeted from his official account. “I made that clear to PIAA in our oversight committee meeting this morning.”

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