PIAA could rewrite co-op rule, making combined teams easier for schools

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020 | 7:03 PM


The PIAA could rewrite its co-op rule this summer, making it easier for two schools to form a combined sports team.

Currently, to cooperatively sponsor a sport, school districts must be contiguous, meaning they share a border. But at times, neighboring districts aren’t willing or able to co-op, so schools want permission to look farther for a partner, if needed.

That was the situation with Fort Cherry and Washington, who asked to form a combined boys golf team this fall. Fort Cherry had three boys who wanted to golf and Washington had two. The PIAA board voted Monday to let the schools form a co-op team even though they aren’t contiguous.

The PIAA made a similar decision last fall when West Greene wanted to co-op with Albert Gallatin in boys soccer. The school year before, Avonworth and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart were granted a co-op waiver for boys volleyball even though they didn’t qualify under the rules.

As a result, the co-op process could receive an overhaul in July at the PIAA board’s workshop meeting, executive director Bob Lombardi said. The rule is intended to increase participation in athletics, particularly in smaller schools.

“The board said they wanted to have a good review of the whole co-op rule itself,” Lombardi said, “and see if it’s meeting the spirit and the intent of today’s athletic programs and what’s happening in the field.”

Under the current rule, Washington would be able to co-op only with Trinity, which surrounds the Washington district.

“We have reached out to them in the past to give our students the opportunity to golf,” Washington athletic director Mike Bosnic told the PIAA board during Monday’s online meeting. “They’re not interested in a co-op with us, so we really have nowhere else to go.”

Athletic director Tom Scarpone represented Fort Cherry.

“The two of us together would have enough golfers to make a team and be able to compete without going under,” Scarpone said.

Both schools rank among the WPIAL’s smaller districts. Washington has 157 boys in grades 9-11 and Fort Cherry has 111. A combined team’s classification is determined by adding half of the smaller school’s enrollment to the larger school’s total.

“We’re going to take a good hard look at (the rule),” Lombardi said, “and see if there needs to be consideration for circumstances we’ve had such as this. Maybe, for lack of a better term, we’ll ‘modernize’ the language.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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