PIAA Approves 6 Classes for Football, Hoops, Baseball & Softball

Thursday, October 8, 2015 | 12:19 AM

Are you ready for six classifications in Pennsylvania high school football?

And boys basketball?

And girls basketball?

And baseball?

And softball?

Six classifications in all of those sports will be a reality in the 2016-17 school year. That was the gigantic news that came out of a PIAA board of directors meeting Wednes day in Mechanicsburg.

Heading into the meeting, the main topic on the agenda was supposed to be a final vote on the expansion of classifications in football from four to six. The PIAA had already passed that in two other votes, and needed only to pass one more vote before going into effect for the 2016-17 season.

That proposal easily passed by a 26-4 vote. But there was more big news to come.

The PIAA went ahead and went against its own voting policy and voted to expand boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball to six classes, also starting next year. In addition, the PIAA voted to expand girls volleyball, boys soccer and girls soccer to four classes, field hockey to three and lacrosse to two.

The expansion of classes in other sports besides football was somewhat of a surprise. The talk of expansion in those sports only came up recently. Under PIAA policy, a proposal needs to pass three votes before going into effect. The expansion in other sports had never been voted on before.

But the PIAA board voted to suspend protocol, which is allowed, and vote only once on adding classes in other sports. It passed by a 23-7 vote.

The votes Wednesday will have a big effect on the WPIAL, which is part of the PIAA. The WPIAL also goes by PIAA classifications.

WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said the league strongly opposed expansion of classes in football.

PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said, “I think the membership overall wanted expansion and I think that is shown in the votes. It’s pretty much that simple. … I wasn’t that surprised at the [expanded classes] of other sports. I think the board looked at it that it should be even handed as far as other sports.”

The PIAA makes classifications every two years, based on school enrollments for students in grades 9-11. Schools across the state must submit their boys and girls enrollments to the PIAA by Oct. 15. At some point in mid November, the PIAA will then release classification cutoffs for all sports. Schools can see where they fall, and schools will then have a few weeks to decide if they want to play up in class. If they do, they must notify the PIAA.

In mid December, the PIAA will release what class all schools will play. In January, the WPIAL steering committees for all sports will start to meet and try to formulate what a new WPIAL will look like.

O’Malley was critical of the PIAA because he said the league didn’t pay attention to its own policies regarding creation of classifications.

The WPIAL had been against six classes in football because O’Malley said long-standing rivalries might end and there would be an increase in travel for many teams.

“We will have to solicit our schools to determine their needs in moving forward with this,” said O’Malley.

Also on Wednesday, the PIAA said the football season will shorten by one week at the end. But districts will have the right to decide whether to play two scrimmages, as usual, or play one scrimmage and then start playing games the second week.

In one other matter, the PIAA turned down a request by Farrell to leave District 10 and re-join the WPIAL. Farrell left the WPIAL for District 10 in 2006.

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