PIAA expands competitive-balance rule to include baseball, softball, soccer and other sports

Friday, July 14, 2023 | 12:45 PM

The PIAA competitive-balance rule that now targets only football and basketball is expanding to include more team sports and some individual ones.

Under the rule, teams that have postseason success and add too many transfers are forced into a higher classification to compete against opponents with larger enrollments. The PIAA board voted Wednesday to add the rule to baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, field hockey, lacrosse, tennis and boys wrestling.

“When we first put this in, the immediate pushback was, ‘Why just football and basketball? Why aren’t you doing it across the board?’ ” PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said. “The board has heard that for a couple of cycles now.”

The newly included sports will be affected starting with the 2024-25 school year. Teams that accumulate six or more “success points” in the current two-year cycle are in jeopardy of promotion if they also reach the transfer threshold.

The threshold was set at one or more transfers in tennis and two or more in the other sports. Basketball (one or more) and football (three or more) remained unchanged.

Adding wrestling and tennis, which are considered individual sports, adds a new wrinkle to the rule.

For example, a Class 2A wrestling team targeted for promotion would compete in the 3A team tournament the following two years. Also, the wrestlers on that team would compete at the 3A level in the individual tournaments, Lombardi said.

Tennis will be impacted similarly.

The PIAA chose not to include individual sports that don’t have a state team tournament, such as track and field, whose team champions are determined by counting place winners at the individual meet. Sports with no state quarterfinals or semifinals were excluded because the “success points” formula wouldn’t apply.

Under the formula, teams that reach the state finals earn four success points, state semifinalists earn three, state quarterfinalists two and all state-qualifying teams earn one.

If a team accumulates six or more points in a two-year cycle, that team could be promoted. The PIAA recently finished the first school year of this current two-year cycle.

The rule was first implemented in 2018.

The PIAA board had voted down a number of potential changes to the rule in the years since, including one that would have eliminated the transfer requirements entirely and made the formula based only on success.

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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