PIAA eases preseason practice requirements for most sports, not football

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 | 6:16 PM

The PIAA says it’s OK to skip practice.

Starting next fall, most high school sports teams will need to complete only 10 days of preseason practice rather than the current 15, the PIAA board voted Wednesday. However, football was not one of the sports included in the reduction.

Football teams still must complete 15 days including five days of heat acclimatization. Golf and tennis also aren’t included in the new policy since those sports already require fewer than 10 practices.

The policy change, which doesn’t start until the 2022-23 academic year, was made to give schools extra time for scheduling regular-season contests, PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said.

“We were continuously hearing from schools that were saying, ‘Hey listen, with three weeks of preseason, two scrimmages and then the regular season, if we have any snow, ice, rain cancellations, we end up playing three- and four-game weeks,’” Lombardi said. “’Is there any way you can give us some help?’”

Lombardi said the PIAA surveyed other state associations to learn their preseason requirements.

“A lot of them — except for football — are having only 10 days of practice, because different from years ago, people are playing almost year round,” he said.

The board voted 27-2 to approve the proposal on a third and final reading.

All WPIAL and City League representatives voted in favor with the exception of North Allegheny athletic director Bob Bozzuto, the president of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association. Bozzuto said the PSADA executive council met recently and not everyone supported the PIAA’s plan.

“There were some that liked the intent of this,” Bozzuto said. “Others would like to have a week (off) between the winter and spring seasons, so that our student-athletes can have some time in between and coaches of winter and spring sports would have their athletes at that point.”

District 3 chairman Doug Bohannon also voted in opposition.

PIAA tweaks competition formula

The PIAA has tweaked its competitive-balance formula, making it a little easier for teams already forced into a higher classification to eventually drop back down.

According to the change approved Wednesday, if a PIAA-promoted team finishes a two-year cycle with no “success points,” that team can drop one classification, regardless of whether the team added any new transfers.

However, the new rule won’t help the Aliquippa football team, which was forced up to Class 4A prior to last season.

The Quips already have accumulated at least two “success points” in this two-year cycle by reaching the WPIAL finals last fall. The WPIAL finals count as a state quarterfinal in the PIAA formula, earning the Quips two points.

Aliquippa football coach Mike Warfield has argued against the forced promotion for months, calling it unsafe. The Quips have a Class A enrollment and were voluntarily playing up in 3A prior to 2020.

“They’re winning,” Lombardi said. “If they weren’t successful, it wouldn’t be an issue. But they’re winning, so they’re probably right where they belong.”

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

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