Butler AD: Agreement with PIAA will let football team play independent schedule

Friday, March 1, 2024 | 2:57 PM

Butler has reached an agreement with the PIAA that will let the football team play an independent schedule this fall, the school’s athletic director said Friday.

“I’m very grateful they listened to us and understood we’re trying to look out for the safety of our players,” Butler athletic director Bill Mylan said. “We’re trying to do what’s best to develop our student-athletes and develop our program in a positive manner.”

PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said they were “in the process of finalizing an agreement” and declined further comment until that was complete.

This latest dispute about Butler’s schedule began when the WPIAL included the school in an updated conference alignment released Feb. 19, saying the PIAA told them to give the team a schedule. Butler hasn’t played WPIAL football since 2019, instead competing the past four seasons as an “associate member” in PIAA District 10, which includes teams in the northwest corner of the state.

Mylan said the understanding reached between Butler and the PIAA is that the team can play an independent schedule but must continue to follow all PIAA bylaws and regulations.

“We won’t play more than 10 games, and we’ll make sure we have an administrator at every football game,” Mylan said. “Those are basic things we already do, but I think they wanted to make sure we’re following all of the policies and procedures that we normally would.”

Butler’s independent football schedule in some order would include Shaler in Week Zero, three City League teams (Allderdice, Brashear and Westinghouse), two schools in West Virginia (University High and Wheeling Park) and four other Western Pennsylvania schools (Clarion, Connellsville, Hollidaysburg and Meadville).

“It’s a really competitive schedule for us to grow over the next two years,” Mylan said. “As we’ve said from the start, our goal is to get back into the WPIAL and play where we’re supposed to play.”

Butler left WPIAL football four years ago after consecutive 0-10 seasons to find a more favorable schedule. The team saw measured success in the past four seasons against District 10 opponents.

However, the PIAA took actions that forced the Butler football team to end its so-called “associate membership” there, first by attempting to ban the Golden Tornado from the District 10 playoffs — which led to a lawsuit by the school district. The PIAA has since changed its bylaws to restrict teams that want to compete in a neighboring PIAA district, as Butler did.

Butler joins a list of WPIAL schools playing independent schedules, a group that includes Albert Gallatin, Brownsville, Connellsville and Uniontown. There were thoughts of possibly organizing an independent-team playoff, Mylan said, but the PIAA made clear that’s not an option.

“That is part of the understanding,” he said. “With us and all of the other teams playing independently, there is no playoff possibility. You play your 10 games and you’re done.”

Butler’s removal from the WPIAL conference alignment would leave seven teams in Class 6A. WPIAL football scheduled are expected to be released March 14.

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.


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