PIAA issues word of caution to schools considering secession

Saturday, July 21, 2018 | 12:00 PM

The PIAA issued a word of caution to public school administrators who have suggested seceding from the state athletic association.

“Should a school wish to form its own organization, that school must train and certify its own officials, develop its own rules, get its own insurance and defend any litigation brought against the school,” the PIAA said in a statement Friday .

The press release comes less than a week before a group of public school administrators are scheduled to convene Tuesday in State College to discuss the public vs. private school debate at the PIAA Playoff Equity Summit. The group wants the PIAA to split public schools from private, parochial and charter schools during the postseason.

If the PIAA doesn’t comply, the group has suggested forming its own state association.

“It is far more reasonable and favorable to everyone if we work cooperatively to improve competitive equity that is fair to all students and schools,” said PIAA president James Zack, superintendent at Shamokin. “It’s what PIAA has been doing for the last 105 years, and what we will continue to do.”

The PIAA release comes two days after its board voted to impose stricter rules on transfers , and it lists 10 measures implemented in the past 15 months to address competitive balance and transfer issues:

1. Overhauled the athletic transfer waiver request form used by transferring students.

2. Adopted a mandatory 21 day sit-out for in-season transfers.

3. Adopted a provision establishing that a transferring student who was eligible to participate in 50 percent of maximum number of contests before transfer is not further eligible that season.

4. Adopted a Competitive Classification formula to add a success factor if caused by transferring students to determine new classifications in football and basketball.

5. Adopted definitions of open gyms and limited the number of times they might be utilized per week during the school year and prohibited school affiliated/related competition within 10 days before the start of practice in each sport season.

6. Mandated timely submission of eligibility lists per sport season and established a penalty for non-compliance.

7. Developed an eligibility portal to track and view all school transfers.

8. Adopted a one-year postseason ban for students who transfer after completing their 10th-grade sport season.

9. Adopted hardship provisions exceptions that would permit eligibility for new transfers, with guidelines as to what types of actions are acceptable.

10. Established a compliance committee to be used to review schools’ adherence to PIAA policies and investigate abuse of the rules.

“PIAA recognizes the challenges of having member schools compete against each other,” Zack said. “The lack of enrollment boundaries, success and perceived competitive advantage over other schools are major issues of which the Board of Directors is well aware and actively pursuing equitable resolution.

“Through the process of representative democracy that allows all constituencies their voice at the Board level, we believe co-operation, not discrimination, is the correct path to find solutions to make competition equitable,” Zack added.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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