(6-20-18) 2018 may well be remembered in high school athletics in the US as the year that state associations saw major changes in the private vs public issues.

On Monday at the annual Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee “Hearing on Public, Private Sports” with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) at the Capitol in Harrisburg with Committee Chairman State Representative Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks County  and state senators, Jay Costa, D-Allegheny County,  Scott Martin, R-Lancaster County and Robert Tomlinson, R-Bucks County heard several testimonies, including PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi, Pennsylvania Catholic Conference Director of Education Sean McAleer and representing charter schools, Mike Bariski, basketball coach and athletic director at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Academy.

The hearings focused on two main issues facing the PIAA and its member schools.  Changes in both areas could happen in the very near future that might lead to separate state tournaments, separating the public schools from the private and charter schools, plus the continuing effort to tweak the transfer rules.

Some of the items PIAA is proposing –

  • competitive balance formula part one, schools (both public and private) that have postseason success will be promoted to a higher-enrollment classification if they have more than two athletic transfers on their basketball teams or five transfers on their football teams
  • competitive balance formula part two, any school that collects six or more success points during a two-year period – Four points for winning a PIAA championship, three for reaching the state semifinals, two for reaching the quarterfinals or one for winning a district title.
  • in-season transfers must sit out 21 days
  • all transfers after ninth grade will be ineligible for postseason play for one year
  • a “Super Class,’’ for elite powers in football and basketball

What has led to all of this –

  • the last two years, Catholic, private and public charter schools have won nine of 12 possible state championships in boys basketball and six of the 12 possible football titles
  • private schools and charters, make up just 18-20 percent of the PIAA membership
  • public school boards have passed resolutions calling for the creation of a separate tournament for the private and other non-boundary schools

So why is the State Legislature involved? Pennsylvania private schools are presently allowed to participate in PIAA sponsored championships thanks to a 1972 state law (Act 219 ), the state legislature would have to change that current law for those schools to be moved to a separate division.

Another hearing in July will be conducted to hear from public school administrators and athletic directors.

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, Jr.

There is a competition problem in our high school athletics – non-boundary high schools are winning the vast majority of the championships across all sports and leaving traditional high schools unable to contend for titles. We had an informative hearing this week, and will be having more as we move forward to determine the best course of action to restore fairness to youth sports.

Legislation “likely” will be drafted to create separate playoffs for private and charter schools after the July hearing, according to a statement made by Brittany Crampsie, Costa’s press secretary and senior Democrat caucus communications advisor.

PA PREPS Facebook video of hearing –