WPIAL sets covid-19 cancellation policy, won’t require vaccinations for officials

Monday, September 20, 2021 | 6:49 PM

A regular-season contest canceled because of covid-19 can be declared a “no-contest” rather than a forfeit, but first the WPIAL intends to make sure teams aren’t bending the rules to avoid an opponent.

“If you have able bodies to participate and you choose not to, then that’s a forfeit,” WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman said after the board met Monday. “However, if you are shut down because of covid and you can’t practice or play — your school is shutting down a program because of that — then that would be a no-contest.

“Or if there are enough covid cases that take you below the amount of athletes (required) to begin a contest according to NFHS rules, that could also be a no-contest,” she added. “If there’s a combination because you have a few of these and a few ineligible and a few injuries, that will still be classified as a forfeit.”

The WPIAL recently sent an email to schools clarifying the league’s position. The guidance comes after the PIAA board expressed concern last week that teams could use covid-related cancellations to dodge an unwanted opponent.

Schools are urged to reschedule any missed games, which is a greater possibility in all sports except football. Scheuneman said the WPIAL already has started contacting administrators at schools that canceled games this fall.

“We have been talking to the principals of the schools to determine how many cases they have versus how many athletes they have,” Scheuneman said.

WPIAL won’t mandate vaccines

The WPIAL won’t require game officials to be vaccinated to work postseason contests, a mandate the PIAA implemented last week for state tournaments. The 12 PIAA districts, which include the WPIAL, were allowed to make decisions independently for district playoffs.

“(The PIAA) acknowledged and recognized that everyone is different,” Scheuneman said. “Some have more contests, more schools, and may not be able to apply this.”

Scheuneman noted that any WPIAL official who wants to work the state playoffs will need to have already started the vaccination process before the WPIAL tournament. She said the WPIAL doesn’t know what percentage of its officials are vaccinated but has other safeguards.

“We already have provisions in place for officials who are not feeling well or have exposure to remove themselves from (working) contests,” Scheuneman said.

Eligibility decisions

The WPIAL will require an eligibility hearing for Lincoln Park junior DeAndre Moye, a basketball play who transferred from Aliquippa. Moye was among a list of transfers the WPIAL processed Monday on paperwork alone.

Among those approved were brothers Colton and Tanner Pfeuffer, who transferred from Peters Township to Bethel Park. Colton Pfeuffer, a junior who plays football, basketball and baseball, was approved only for the regular season. The WPIAL will hold a hearing to decide his postseason eligibility under PIAA rules.

Younger brother Tanner Pfeuffer is fully eligible because the PIAA postseason rule applies only to transfers after the start of 10th grade.

Additionally, the WPIAL board approved postseason waiver requests for two transfers: Charleroi junior Tylie Perok (softball) and New Castle junior Da’Jaun Young (football and basketball). Perok transferred from California and Young from Kennedy Catholic. However, the WPIAL denied postseason eligibility to Brentwood junior Anthony Herisko (football), a transfer from Brashear. Brentwood can appeal.

Postseason hearings

Aliquippa football teammates Jamar Jeter and Floyd Sims remain ineligible for the postseason after hearings Monday before the WPIAL board. Scheuneman said their requests for postseason waivers were denied along with a request from Elizabeth Forward’s John DiNapoli, a transfer from East Allegheny.

All three can appeal to the PIAA.

The WPIAL held five hearings Monday. In the two others, Knoch’s Carson Kosecki and Beaver Falls’ Isaiah Aeschbacher were granted postseason eligibility.

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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